Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Web Log - March, 2011


31-Mar-11 News -- US deepens involvement in Libya, as rebels suffer decisive reversal

Obama orders CIA deployment in Libya

US deepens involvement in Libya, as rebels suffer decisive reversal

The rebels in Libya suffered a decisive reversal on Wednesday, as Gaddafi's forces changed tactics. The rebels were forced to pull out of the key oil town of Ras Lanuf, according to the BBC, as well as several other cities.

Libya military actions - March 30 (BBC)
Libya military actions - March 30 (BBC)

Western politicians, analysts and journalists had been fantasizing that the rebels could hold on to the towns with oil fields, and that they could then sell the oil to support their effort. That fantasy now seems unlikely to be fulfilled.

It's becoming widely recognized that the rebels have no military experience, and are poorly disciplined and ill-trained, according to the Guardian.

Not only does Gaddafi have a trained army, but he's also hired thousands of foreign fighters from Chad, Niger, Mali and other countries to provide security in urban areas, freeing up soldiers to fight the rebels.

Reuters reported on Wednesday evening that President Barack Obama has signed, within the last two or three weeks, a secret order authorizing covert support for the rebels.

Furthermore, the CIA has sent more than a dozen covert operatives to Libya as part of an escalating U.S. effort to help the rebels to oust Gaddafi, according to a report by the National Journal.

The CIA's deployment to Libya is certain expand, and direct assistance to the Libyan rebels will be provided. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has several dozen Special Air Service commandoes and M16 agents already operating there, according to the report.

Thus it appears that America is becoming more fully committed and involved in the Libyan intervention, and that the American involvement is becoming increasingly dangerous.

I've been holding back an important part of the Generational Dynamics analysis of the Libyan intervention, mainly as an emotional decision because the news is not good.

In order to describe the situation, I'm going to go into the weeds of generational theory, but hopefully the result will be worth the effort.

In order to analyze what's going to happen in Libya, the first question is to identify Libya's previous generation eras, particularly its generational crisis wars. (See "Basics of Generational Dynamics.")

I've found it extremely difficult to do this analysis, because I've been unable to find enough historical information about Libya.

Based on what I knew several weeks ago, I tentatively concluded that the last crisis war was the Italian invasion of Libya that began in 1911, and reached a climax in 1920 with the destruction of the Tripolitanian Republic, and the agreement with the Sunusis with the al-Rajma agreement of 1920. This would make Gaddafi's 1969 coup, or its aftermath, a likely candidate for the next crisis war. However, even when I reached this conclusion, I knew it might be wishful thinking, since nothing about the 1969 coup or its aftermath "reads" like a generational crisis war.

Libya, showing the three historic divisions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica
Libya, showing the three historic divisions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica

Several weeks ago, an online correspondent wrote to me, putting the case that Libya's last crisis war climaxed in 1931 with the Italian massacre of Bedouins in Cyrenaica, and the settling of a large population of Italians in Tripolitania.

So I wrote back to him as follows:

"I guess I'm emotionally reluctant to accept your conclusions because if you're right then it means that the current Libya war is a full-fledged crisis civil war, which means that things are certain to go very, very badly.

So I think that for emotional reasons I'm going to postpone a decision a while longer, until it's clearer which way things are going, now that we're in three simultaneous wars in Muslim countries."

To put this conclusion into perspective, let's take a quick look at the Vietnam war and the recent Iraq war.

North and South Vietnam have had different ethnic origins, with North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) originally populated by ethnic Chinese, and South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one crisis civil war after another over the centuries. Prior to the 1960s, Vietnam's last crisis war was the French conquest of Indochina in the 1880s and 1890s. By the 1960s, Vietnam was deep into a generational Crisis era, and so there was bound to be a crisis civil war, and the U.S. could neither have caused it nor prevented it. All the U.S. could do was to get caught in the middle, which we did.

The Iraq war was frequently called "another Vietnam," but it was nothing like the Vietnam war. Iraq's previous crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, so Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, where a crisis civil war is literally impossible. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq did all they could to trigger a sectarian civil war, but it fizzled within a year, as expected.

Now we come to the Libya intervention, which is increasingly becoming a civil war with the U.S. being caught in the middle. Iraq could never have become "another Vietnam," but ironically Libya can.

Generational Dynamics forecasting is at best probabilistic. It can predict things with certainty over a long time frame, or with some uncertainty in a shorter time window.

So at this point, I don't completely buy into the Libyan disaster scenario. There are too many uncertainties, and I've come to have too much respect for the power of chaotic events and political interventions to delay trend events and the inevitable. Furthermore, it's my fault that I haven't tracked down whatever books or histories or whatever of Libya in the 1920s and 1930s to be able to reach a definitive conclusion on what happened there. (As long as I'm blaming myself, I'll take the liberty of whining a little, because I simply don't have the time to do a lot of the research that needs to be done. I make no money from Generational Dynamics, which is a public service, and I'm like everyone else having to work hard at my day job just to pay bills.)

At this point, all I can really say is that, based on the information I have so far, there is a non-trivial probability that the Libyan intervention will degenerate into a bloody crisis civil war. In the case of the Iraq war, I could say that the probability of that happening was zero. In the case of Libya, I don't know whether that probability is 30% or 50% or 70%, but I know for certain that it's well above zero. However, one bit of good news is that I totally discount any credible involvement by al-Qaeda in Libya.

The key to refining this analysis is to thoroughly study what happened in Libya in the 1920s and 1930s, Libya's last generational Crisis era, in order to understand the historical relationship between the Arabs, Berbers, Bedouins, Italians, and other ethnic and tribal groups in Libya. Perhaps I'll have the time and opportunity to do that analysis soon.

In the meantime, what I can tell you now, based on what I know now, is that the Libya war is much more like the Vietnam war than Iraq ever was, and that I'm not very optimistic about what's coming soon. And with the entire Mideast in a generational Crisis era, it could be much worse than Vietnam. It's a shame that no one in the Administration knows anything about generational theory, or they might be pursuing a different policy.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-11 News -- US deepens involvement in Libya, as rebels suffer decisive reversal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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30-Mar-11 News -- A Palestinian state in the United Nations by September?

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas consider reconciliation

A Palestinian state in the United Nations by September?

While the eyes of the world are focused on Libya, Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have been moving ahead with plans to discuss reconciliation, with the expectation that the United Nations will create a Palestinian state in September.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday

The so-called Mideast peace process has been dead as a doornail for some time, and many people in the international community blame Israel's policies of permitting the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians were doing nothing until the "Arab Revolution" reached Gaza and the West Bank, in the form of young Palestinians demanding that the two warring Palestinian factions reconcile. (See "21-Mar-11 News -- March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel.")

Hamas, which has been governing the Gaza strip since the 2007 war with Fatah, has previously been completely opposed to any reconciliation, but the March !5 protests have divided Hamas leaders, and forced some of them to consider the possibility.

The result is that Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar traveled to Cairo to meet with the Arab League, and the Arab League will host reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in Cairo some time in April, according to AFP.

The idea of reconciliation, which wasn't even being considered until recently, is now highly significant in view of a statement issued on September 21, 2010, by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, European Union). This statement called for recognition of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders by September of this year, with reconciliation being one of the conditions.

The statement has been specifically endorsed by President Barack Obama. Here are some excerpts:

"The Quartet expressed its strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which can resolve all final status issues within one year. The Quartet reaffirmed its full commitment to its previous statements, which provide that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. ...

Recalling that change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority’s August 2009 plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian State within two years. The Quartet commended the significant progress towards that goal as reported by international institutions to the 21 September 2010 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. The Quartet took particular note of the statement in the Economic Monitoring Report of the World Bank that: “If the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future.” ...

The Quartet reiterated its support for efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization."

In view of this statement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is studying what steps have to be taken to meet its obligations by September, according to the Palestine News Network, with the expectation that a Palestinian state will become a member nation of the United Nations by a vote in September.

A reconciliation between the Palestinian factions is one of the steps. Another step, already ordered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is to draw up the constitution for a future Palestinian state, according to the Arab News.

However, talk of a reconciliation has drawn a sharp reaction from Israel, according to AFP. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the following in a speech on Monday evening:

"We hear in recent days that the Palestinian Authority is thinking of uniting with Hamas.

It’s thinking of effecting peace, not with Israel, but with Hamas. Well, I say to them something very simple: you can’t have peace with Israel and Hamas. It’s one or the other, but not both.

Choose peace with Israel. Abandon unity with Hamas because Hamas is the antithesis of peace."

This highlights one of the difficulties with "unity," because the nature of the unity is a factor. The Quartet statement, excerpted above, calls for "efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization." One of these commitments, for example, is recognition of Israel and its right to exist, something that Hamas has refused to do.

Thus, Netanyahu has threatened to take unspecified unilateral actions, if the UN creates a Palestinian state in September, governed by a unified government, especially if it doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist.

Furthermore, the PA is willing to give up hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid, if that's the cost of reconciliation, according to the Jerusalem Post. This decision was necessary because the U.S. has in the past indicated that it would not provide aid to a unity government that included Hamas.

So, in summary, the plan being pursued by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the following: Pursue a unity government with Hamas, despite opposition from Israel and potentially from the U.S., and then go the United Nations in September and demand that they fulfill their commitment to create a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders, and make it a member of the United Nations.

It sounds like a straightforward plan, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast is headed for a new war between Arabs and Jews, re-fighting the genocidal war that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

With the entire Mideast in turmoil with "Arab Revolutions," any plan that stretches out to September is sure to have to deal with many unexpected complications. As the old saying goes, planning is what you do when life happens.

(Note: For simplicity, this report did not attempt to make any distinction between the following organizations: Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO.)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-11 News -- A Palestinian state in the United Nations by September? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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29-Mar-11 News -- Yemen weapons factory explosion raises fears of al-Qaeda rise

This 'catastrophe' will affect the uprising in the capital, Sanaa

Yemen weapons factory explosion raises fears of al-Qaeda rise

On Monday, more than 100 people were killed, and dozens injured, from an explosion in a weapons factory in Abyan province in Yemen, according to CNN.

Yemen (CS Monitor)
Yemen (CS Monitor)

There is a bizarre story behind this explosion.

On Sunday, around 30 hooded gunmen stormed that weapons factory, as well as some other sites in the region, according to VOA. They drove off in four vehicles with cases of weapons.

On Monday, local residents were ransacking and looting the factory. It's believed that one of them lit a cigarette, triggering the explosion.

The explosion has become part of the politics of the "Arab Revolution" that's occurring in Sanaa, the country's capital. For almost two months, tens of thousands of demonstrators have been protesting to demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down, after 38 years in power.

The outcome of this uprising is crucially important for the United States, since Saleh is a close ally in fighting the war on terror, especially since Yemen became the headquarters for al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2009.

In a remarkable change in assessment last year, CIA analysts now see AQAP as a greater threat to US security than the core al-Qaeda group in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (See "27-Aug-10 News -- U.S. considering escalating military role in Yemen") The fear is that if Saleh steps down, then he may be replaced by someone more sympathetic to al-Qaeda. Even worse, the country may descend into a civil war that permits an al-Qaeda takeover.

Opposition leaders have been accusing Saleh of playing the "al-Qaeda card," according to News Yemen, by using the possible rise of al-Qaeda as a means of discrediting the opposition.

Thus, here have accusations and counter-accusations regarding the weapons factory. Abyan province is the biggest stronghold of AQAP, and the pro-Saleh side is saying that the gunmen were al-Qaeda militants who will perpetrate more crimes of this type, if Saleh is forced to step down and the country becomes more unstable.

The anti-Saleh side is hinting that the Saleh government pulled back its security forces from the weapons factory on purpose, in order to create a crisis that would benefit Saleh. Whether the gunmen were al-Qaeda militants or "ordinary" militants is also called into question.

Whatever the truth about the militants, the subsequent explosion was not anticipated by anyone.

One doctor quoted by the Associated Press says, "This accident is a true catastrophe, the first of its kind. There are so many burned bodies. I can't even describe the situation.”

A "catastrophe" of this kind is certain to have an effect on the growing political instability of Yemen. But it remains to be seen which side will benefit, as the truth comes out about the weapons factory.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-11 News -- Yemen weapons factory explosion raises fears of al-Qaeda rise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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28-Mar-11 News -- Libya's rebels sweep towards Tripoli, as Nato reaches some mysterious agreement

China's food imports keep rising, while exports fall

Libya's rebels sweep towards Tripoli, as Nato reaches some mysterious agreement

In the last couple of days, rebels have been sweeping towards Tripoli, capturing or recapturing one town after another -- Ajdabiya, Brega, Uqayla, Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad, according to the BBC. Sirte is still a Gaddafi stronghold, while Misrata is the scene of bitter fighting.

Libya military actions - March 26 (BBC)
Libya military actions - March 26 (BBC)

However, no one is doubting that the rebels were successful only because of the air strikes provided by the US-led coalition and operation "Odyssey Dawn," based on authorization last week by the UN Security Council, according to AP. Al-Jazeera on Sunday showed rows of tanks along the coast road demolished by coalition missiles.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the rounds of the Sunday morning news talk shows, appearing on every one (but not permitted to appear on Fox News Sunday -- apparently the war is still going on).

Here are the excerpts from Face the Nation that I found most interesting:

"BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s talk about Libya a little then. We have-- the U.N. resolution is in place. It’s established a no-fly zone. NATO is going to take over the operations there. But it does not call for regime change. And the President has said that Mister Mac-- Qaddafi has to go. That seems a bit contradictory.

ROBERT GATES: Well, I don’t think so. I think you-- what you’re seeing is the difference between a military mission and a policy objective. The military mission is very limited and restricted to the establishment of the no-fly zone and for humanitarian purposes to prevent Qaddafi from being used to his armed forces to slaughter his own people. That’s it. And-- and, one of the things that I think is central is you don’t in a military campaign set as a mission or a goal something you’re not sure you can achieve. And if we’ve learned anything over the past number of years, regime change is very complicated. And-- and can be very expensive and can take a long time. And so I think the key here was establishing a military mission that was achievable was achievable on a limited period of time and that could be sustained.


BOB SCHIEFFER: What-- what would be an acceptable outcome? You want him out. But would you be satisfied if the country wound up partitioned or something of that nature?

HILLARY CLINTON: I think it’s too soon to predict that. I mean one of the reasons why we are forming a political contact group in London this coming week is because we want to get a unified political approach just as we have forged a unified military approach. And as-- as both Bob and I have said, there are many ways that this could move toward the-- the end state. If you think about what happened in the nineties, you know, it-- it took a while for Milosevic to leave but you could see his days were numbered even though he wasn’t yet out of office. And so, there’s a lot of ways that this could unfold. What is clear is that Qaddafi himself is losing ground."

This is very interesting. I don't believe that I've heard an argument like this before. It makes a virtue out of not having an objective for the Libyan intervention. I actually have some sympathy for this argument, but it seems strange to hear it, after hearing for years that every military action should have clearly defined objective.

The other bit of very strange news on Sunday was that command for the entire operation was to be turned over to Nato. You'll recall that it had already been decided that implementation of the "no-fly zone" was to be commanded by Nato, so what was new on Sunday is that Nato will also command the part of the mission where fighter jets go into Libya and blow up Gaddafi's tanks and troops.

Or, at least that's what we assume the agreement means, based on the following description from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, according to CNN:

"Our goal is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gadhafi regime. NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less."

The problem with all this is Turkey. It was just three days ago that a French fighter jet destroyed a Libyan air force plane that was violating the no-fly zone. It was destroyed by a French air-to-ground missile, just after it landed, according to the Guardian.

Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan vitriolically attacked French president Nicolas Sarkozy:

"I wish that those who only see oil, gold mines and underground treasures when they look in [Libya's] direction, would see the region through glasses of conscience from now on."

Thus, it's not surprising that the announcement of Nato command on Sunday conspicuously did not provide any details of what will be permitted.

Before today, Erdogan was bitterly opposed to Nato command, because it would mean that Turkish forces might be used against the Libyans. But on Sunday, Erdogan demanded Nato command, so that Turkey could influence the course of the action. The Guardian quotes him as follows:

"We have been opposed to any unilateral action and we could never accept appeals such as that by the French minister for a new crusade. But for Turkey, it's out of the question to shoot at Libyan people or drop bombs on the Libyan people. Turkey's role will be to withdraw from Libya as soon as possible [and] restore the unity and integrity of the country based on the democratic demands of the people.

[It's vital that] this deployment should not be carried out for Libya's oil. Of course there will be a price for these actions and no one can guarantee that Libya won't have to pay a price. ...

I'm afraid we could see another Afghanistan or a second Iraq emerging. When western forces entered Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, people were talking of it being over in days, and people said the same in Iraq. But a million have died and a civilisation has as good as collapsed. We don't want to see a similar picture in Libya."

It's hard for me, at least, to see how all this is going to be sorted out. I agree with those commentators who say that Gaddafi will never agree to back down, since he's obviously enjoying himself right now, playing the international victim.

President Obama has announced that he will give a televised speech on Monday evening. Perhaps then we'll know everything.

China bitterly attacks Libya military intervention

China could have vetoed the UN resolution authorizing the Libya military intervention, but was talked into abstaining through the charms of two women, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. But now the Chinese appear to regret this action, if we're to judge from the following, appearing in the state-run media Xinhua:

"The ongoing West-led "Odyssey Dawn" military operation against Libya, which was launched on March 19, apparently is adding fuel to the fire of the Libyan crisis instead of bringing the light of "dawn" to the North African country.

The operation, dominated by Western powers including France, Britain, the United States and Italy, has caused huge civilian casualties, building and infrastructure damage and hundreds of thousands of refugees. It has escalated the Libyan conflict, which started in mid-February.

It apparently has overstepped the authorization of the UN resolution on Libya adopted on March 17, raised questions and triggered disturbance in the region and around the world at large. ...

Meanwhile, the operation was initiated under the pretext of "humanitarian" assistance and protecting Libyan civilians, but the results, ironically, turned out to be more civilian deaths and a deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Libyan authorities said over 100 civilians had been killed by the air strikes, and the UN Refugee Agency said over 350,000 Libyan refugees had fled the country up to Wednesday. ...

In Homer's glorious ancient Greek epic poem "The Odyssey," the Greek hero Odysseus, after the fall of the Troy city, finally managed to return home and accomplished his long-cherished dream after a 10-year arduous trek.

However, the West-led Odyssey Dawn operation is complicating and worsening the situation in Libya and bringing about more sufferings to the Libyan people. The real "dawn" for the Libyan people, alleged as the operation's aim, apparently is still far, far away."

Imagine that - a Beijing blogger quoting Homer!

Additional links

China's corn imports and exports (WSJ)
China's corn imports and exports (WSJ)

A high level agricultural official, Chen Xiwen, is criticizing China's policy of demanding that each year's grain harvest be larger than the previous year's setting a new record each year. "Chasing ever-higher output levels may mean over-fertilization and unsafe agriculture," said Chen, indirectly referencing the Law of Diminishing Returns. China's grain imports have risen substantially in recent years, while exports have fallen. "China used to be the world's largest soybean producer, now it's the world's largest soybean importer," said Chen. Wall Street Journal (Access)

12 more protesters were killed on Sunday by Syria's army, after two days of fierce anti-government protests in the port city of Latakia. Iran, which considers Syria an ally, is portraying Syria's protesters as "agitators." But Iran has spoken out in support of protesters in Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Of course, Iran's government has never had a kind word for peaceful protesters at home. Guardian

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-11 News -- Libya's rebels sweep towards Tripoli, as Nato reaches some mysterious agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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27-Mar-11 News -- South Korea commemorates Cheonan warship attack, while North starves

South Korea still demands an apology from the North

South Korea commemorates Cheonan warship attack, while North starves

The sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which occurred a year ago on March 26, has had a profound effect on relations between the U.S. and China, as well as between North and South Korea.

South Koreans raise the sunken ship, the Cheonan, in April 2010
South Koreans raise the sunken ship, the Cheonan, in April 2010

The Cheonan sank when a torpedo exploded, killing 46 people. Few people doubt that the torpedo was launched by the North Koreans, but war between North and South Korea was avoided by a strange diplomatic dance by the South Koreans. (See "1-May-10 News -- S. Korean and Chinese leaders meet to discuss warship sinking")

North and South Korea were still technically at war, since the Korean war of the 1950s resulted in an armistice, not a peace agreement. North and South Korea had appeared to be moving toward some kind of peace agreement, and some people fantasized that the North and South could be reunited without bloodshed.

The sinking raised strong nationalistic feelings among the South Koreans, and many were demanding military retaliation. In order to avoid military action, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak artfully avoided accusing the North of being responsible for the explosion, for fear that merely saying so would also compel him to a declaration of war. He promised "resolute and unwavering" action over the warship sinking, once the international investigation has been completed, but then extended the investigation for many weeks. By the time the investigation was completed, tempers had cooled.

The investigation found that the torpedo exploded beneath the warship, causing a "shockwave and bubble effect" that fractured and split the ship. As part of the investigation, South Koreans trawled the sea floor beneath the site of the explosion and were able to recover torpedo parts that could be unambiguously identified as North Korea. (See "21-May-10 News -- S. Korea accuses N. Korea of sinking warship")

Finally the South Koreans had no choice but to accuse the Norks of sinking the Cheonan. This infuriated the Norks, who threatened war -- which they do on a regular basis anyway. The Chinese refused to endorse the findings of the international investigation.

The South Koreans have adopted a number of "retaliatory" measures, short of military reprisals. They've conducted navy military drills off the coast, near the North Korean line, including joint exercises with American aircraft carriers. They've conducted a propaganda campaign, sending balloons with propaganda messages across the border into the North. Each of these acts brings as a response a hysterical threat of war from the North.

In November, the North Koreans shelled Yeonpyeong Island, a South Korean island near North Korea's maritime border. The attack killed several South Korean civilians, and almost did result in war. (See "24-Nov-10 News -- South Korean civilians shelled by North Koreans.")

China refused to condemn the North Koreans. The Chinese proposed a resumption of the 6-way talks, but that proposal was rejected by the U.S. and South Korea, since it would appear to be rewarding North Korea for their attack. The South Koreans became increasingly frustrated with the Chinese, who seem more interested in diverting attention away from the North Korean actions. The South Koreans are particularly angry at the Chinese for apparently sabotaging a United Nations investigation of the Yeonpyeong Island attack.

These events have significantly worsened US-Chinese relations, although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was able to convince the Chinese recently not to veto the resolution authorizing military intervention in Libya -- a decision which the Chinese now probably regret.

All of this comes at a time when much of North Korea is close to starvation, according to a report by the World Food Program (PDF).

According to the report, North has suffered a series of agricultural shocks in recent months, including very heavy rains in September and October of last year, reducing the rice and maize crops, and much colder than normal temperaturs in December and January, resulting in an expected 25% reduction in winter wheat yields.

The Public Distribution System will run out of food in May, and more than six million people will be in urgent need of international food assistance.

South Korea has provided food to the North in the past, but last year refused any further food aid until the North apologizes for the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island attacks.

Because of the severity of the food situation in the North, the South Koreans have announced that they will resume humanitarian aid for North Korean children only -- powdered milk, nutritional cookies, and medical supplies -- according to Chosun.

It's now been four months since the attack on Yeonpyeong Island. If we're to judge from history, it's almost time for a new North Korean provocation of some kind.

I've felt for a long time that the North Koreans believe that they have nothing to lose by a war with the South. They know that the 1950s Korean War ended in an armistice, and they know that they've paid no price for subsequent provocations. I have little doubt that in some file cabinet in Pyongyang there's plan that says they can capture Seoul overnight by sending a few hundred thousand N. Korean troops south across the border. They may even believe that once they've done that, the Americans will simply leave and let the Koreans work things out by themselves -- with the North Koreans running the show.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-11 News -- South Korea commemorates Cheonan warship attack, while North starves thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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26-Mar-11 News -- Syrian troops shoot to kill as tens of thousands protest across Syria

Protesters try to topple statue of president Assad's father

Syrian troops shoot to kill as tens of thousands protest across Syria

Syrian troops opened fire on demonstrators on Friday, as tens of thousands of people poured out of the mosques after midday prayers and staged protests against the government of president Bashar al-Assad, according to the Independent.

The BBC and other news organizations were prevented from covering the protests, but Assad's security forces were reported to have killed at least 20 people near Deraa in southern Syria.

The conciliatory atmosphere surrounding the concessions that were made on Thursday (see "25-Mar-11 News -- Syria's desperate president Assad tries concessions to appease protesters") apparently did not last more than a few hours.

The protests were triggered over a week ago when security forces arrested a dozen children in Deraa for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. Since then, Deraa has been the center of most of the protests.

Around Damascus, police used batons to break up demonstrations of around a thousand people. There were rallies in most other Syrian cities.

In an extraordinary show of defiance, footage posted on Youtube (see video above) shows protesters in Deraa trying to topple a statue of the late president Hafez Assad, the current president's father. The protestors were driven off by gunfire, presumably from the security forces, according to the LA Times.

I can remember nostalgically periods last year when days would go by and there was hardly anything to write about. Now there are about ten crises going on simultaneously, and it's very hard to keep up. The world is changing very quickly and very dramatically.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-11 News -- Syrian troops shoot to kill as tens of thousands protest across Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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25-Mar-11 News -- Syria's desperate president Assad tries concessions to appease protesters

Circus continues as Nato takes command of Libya No-Fly Zone

Syria's desperate president Assad tries concessions to appease protesters

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad made historic concessions to young protesters on Thursday, in a desperate effort to head off the fate of leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other targets of "Arab Revolutions," according to the BBC.

Left: Bouthaina Shaaban speaking at press conference on Thursday.  Right: Dead protesters in Deraa on Wednesday. (EuroNews)
Left: Bouthaina Shaaban speaking at press conference on Thursday. Right: Dead protesters in Deraa on Wednesday. (EuroNews)

The concessions come as democracy activists have called for massive demonstrations on Friday, celebrating "Dignity Friday." The demonstrations are to start after midday prayers, when thousands of people pour out of mosques onto the streets.

The concessions were announced by Buthaina Shaaban, Assad's media advisor, according to Bloomberg. They include economic reforms and political reforms, including the dismissal of a deeply unpopular governor.

Most surprising were the announced intentions to provide political freedoms, including a draconian "state of emergency" that's been in effect since 1963.

The democracy protests began last Friday, and have been growing. They were entirely unexpected, since demonstrations have been rare in Syria. Thousands took to the streets on Wednesday in Deraa in southern Syria, near the Jordan border. Protesters chanted, "Traitors do not kill their own people. God, Syria, Freedom. The blood of martyrs is not spilled in vain!" The Guardian quotes rights activists as saying that security forces shot and killed more than 100 people.

In her press conference on Thursday, Shaaban denied that security forces had killed anyone, and she blamed the killings on al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists.

The concessions are not expected to satisfy the protesters, according to an analyst quoted by Reuters. "When you first hear it you think they're making major concessions, but when you look at it you realize there's not a lot there besides the salary boost. You understand the regime is in a very difficult spot and they're flustered."

Circus continues as Nato takes command of Libya No-Fly Zone

In a bizarre twist of diplomacy, Nato member states agreed on Thursday to assume command of a no-fly zone over Libya, according to VOA.

However, the US will retain command for other operations, especially protecting Libyan civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's forces on the ground.

Turkey, in particular, was opposed to authorizing Nato to take any action that might allow "Turkish bombs" to kill any Libyan civilians, even as collateral damage. The current compromise meets Turkey's objections.

However, the U.S. still has the major part of the command responsibility, and also supplies most of the assets. The administration has said that it intends to turn all command responsibility over to someone else, but so far it is not known how that will occur.

Additional links

Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned on Thursday, throwing Portugal and the euro currency into a new crisis. Bloomberg

Turkey is objecting to Nato air strikes in Libya, but they're launching their own air strikes aainst the PKK Kurds in northern Iraq. Zaman

The Israel/Gaza border war continued on Thursday. The Israel Air Force bombed a Hamas arms depot, after two rockets and several mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. Haaretz

As the numbers of deaths and atrocities grow in Ivory Coast, France is seeking a United Nations committment to do more to stop the fighting. Bloomberg

As we reported several times, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah was furious with the Obama administration for throwing Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak under the bus so quickly. As the administration has repeatedly failed to side with Arab leaders in the "Arab Revolutions," the gulf in Saudi-American relations is growing larger. The Gulf nations have always depended on the US for protection, but now the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of nations is planning to take on the responsibility of protecting itself. This development is consistent with the Generational Dynamics prediction that Sunni Muslim countries will be allied with Pakistan and China, while Iran, India and Israel will be allied with the West in the Clash of Civilizations world war. McClatchy

China and Indonesia have agreed to strengthen their defense cooperation, including the joint production of missiles. Jakarta Post

When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for comparing the Libyan intervention to "a medieval call for a crusade," he revealed a larger split between the two leaders. Putin wanted Russia to veto the UN revolution, but Medvedev overruled him and allowed an abstention. Putin wishes to pursue a more confrontational policy with the West, while Medvedev wishes a friendlier policy. This policy disagreement is fundamental, and pulling them apart, as the 2012 presidential election approaches. Jamestown

The conflict between Russian authorities and the Muslim population of the North Caucasus (Russia's southern provinces) is deepening. Just in the first half of March alone there were dozens of victims resulting from the confrontation between the authorities and the armed opposition as the North Caucasus slips further and further into chaos. Jamestown

The Florida court system is going bankrupt because the number of mortgage foreclosures has fallen dramatically. Filing fees for each foreclosure is $400-$2000, and the number of foreclosure filings has fallen from a high of 39,114 in March 2009 to a recent low of 8,205 February. The number of foreclosure filings has plummeted because several banks have imposed foreclosure moratoriums on themselves, following the "robo-signing" crisis. (See "22-Oct-10 News -- Foreclosure mess turns into a major crisis.") Banks used computerized "robo-signers" to process tens of thousands of foreclosure notices without having each set of documents reviewed by a human being, and that's become a crisis, causing a foreclosure moratorium, and bankrupting the courts. Schadenfreude, anyone? St. Petersburg Times

Detroit was once the fourth largest city in the United States, but economic problems have caused Detroit to lose 25% of its population in the last decade, after losing population steadily since the 1950s. Detroit's population is now at World War I levels. Detroit News

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that capitalism is to blame for why there's no life on Mars. Fox News

Yes, sex can kill you. Reuters

Men may be jerks ... but women are insane. Real Clear Politics

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-11 News -- Syria's desperate president Assad tries concessions to appease protesters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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24-Mar-11 News -- Jerusalem bombing comes as Gaza/Israel border war may escalate

Europe's bonds, Cairo's stocks, and America's homes show worsening financial trends

Jerusalem bombing comes as Gaza/Israel border war may escalate

A bomb blast at a Jerusalem bus stop on Wednesday killed one person and wounded dozens others, according to The National (UAE). Nobody has claimed responsibility fo the bombing, but Israeli police suspect Palestinian terrorists.

Jerusalem bomb kills one, injures dozens
Jerusalem bomb kills one, injures dozens

According to a report by Debka:

"[T]he attack was professionally executed by a team of three to five with local aid from East Jerusalem Palestinians. While the authorities have reassured the city that it was a one-off attack, intelligence and terror experts are certain a terrorist organization activated trained bombers and may do so again.

The 1-2 kilogram device planted in a suitcase was detonated at one of the busiest corners of Jerusalem, where taxis wait to pick up out-of-town arrivals and two buses take on passengers. The site of attack must have been picked in advance, with the bomber waiting in a getaway car nearby to detonate the device as one of the buses was pulling away and drive off to Arab Jerusalem or the West Bank before the police arrived. This method is familiar from the 2003-2006 Palestinian war of terror. The police initially set up road blocks on the highway to Tel Aviv before realizing too late that the bombers had headed east."

Many analysts believe that a splinter terrorist group planted the bomb, and that Hamas was not responsible, according to Haaretz.

Nonetheless, the bombing comes at a time when a border conflict between Gaza and Israel is escalating, for the first time since the war between Israel and Gaza ended early in 2009.

It began last week, when some Palestinian analysts were saying that Hamas was launching mortar shells into southern Israel in order to provoke an Israeli response to end youth protests demanding Hamas/Fatah reconciliation. (See "21-Mar-11 News -- March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel.")

Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for some of the missile attacks on Israeli towns.

In response, the Israel Air Force has been stepping up attacks on Gaza, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israeli airstrikes have targeted smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, and a Hamas training camp in central Gaza.

Violence in southern Syria escalates

The escalation along this border comes at a time when violence is also escalating in Deraa in southern Syria, near the border to Jordan.

On Wednesday, Syrian security forces attacked a mosque that had been the focus of anti-government demonstrations, according to the Guardian. Syrian security forces opened fire on scores of young protesters from surrounding towns as they offered support to the protests. At least 15 protesters were shot dead on Wednesday, and dozens more were injured.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a new war, re-fighting the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

A couple of weeks ago I pointed out that it was the periphery of the Mideast (Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya) that was becoming unstable first, and I suggested that the instability would begin to spread toward the "center."

That now appears to be happening, as the instability is spreading to Palestine and Jerusalem, with Israel in conflict with Hamas, and the United States and Europe involved in Libya.

Everyone is expecting all of these conflicts and revolutions to simmer down after a while, and possibly they will. But the US, Europe and the Mideast are in a generational Crisis era, which makes this time quite different from the 1990s.

In the 1990s, with the Silent Generation still in place, people were much more conciliatory and willing to compromise. But today, with the Boomers and Gen-Xers in positions of power, people are "attracted" towards confrontation and conflict, rather than conciliation and compromise. This means that a conflict that might have fizzled out in the 1990s is more likely to escalate in 2011.

So it's possible that the various Arab Revolutions and border conflicts will simmer down, but in a generational Crisis era, it's more likely that they will continue to escalate and reach full scale war.

Europe's bonds, Cairo's stocks, and America's homes show worsening financial trends

Many of the financial problems that have been getting ignored began to reassert themselves this week.

Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain 10-year bonds, 3/23/2011
Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain 10-year bonds, 3/23/2011

Portugal's government is close to collapse on Wednesday, after the Parliament rejected an austerity ("stability and growth") plan proposed by prime minister José Sócrates, according to Bloomberg. It's thought that this major political defeat will force Socrates to dissolve the government and call early elections.

Portugal has been playing the same game the Ireland and Greece played, to no avail, last year before they were bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The game is to pretend, for as long as possible that there's no debt problem, and that there's no chance of default.

However, as can be seen in the above array, the yield (interest rate) on Portugal's 10-year bonds has been increasing steadily during the last year, and now exceeds 7.5%. When investors demand higher yields, it means that investors believe that the likelihood of the country's default is increasing.

A 7.5% bond yield is not per se a sign of crisis, but the continuing, steady increase is a cause for great concern.

What REALLY creates the crisis atmosphere is the bond yields for Ireland and Greece. Those two countries were bailed out last year, and the politicians promised that the bailouts would guarantee that the two countries would NOT default. Ireland's bond yields now exceed 10%, and Greece's exceed 12%. The yields keep increasing even though both countries were "bailed out," and even though both countries have implemented sharp austerity programs to reduce debt.

So, you can imagine being an MP in Portugal, deciding whether to vote for Socrates' austerity proposal, and looking at the above array of graphs, and thinking, "It's perfectly obvious that Portugal is not going to do any better than Greece or Ireland did, so why even bother to pass an austerity program? I might as well vote against it, and say we can do well without an austerity program. That's a lie, but who cares, as long as I get re-elected next time?"

Certainly lying politicians, analysts and journalists are the norm these days, but in this case, it's really obvious. When these bailouts occurred last year, a number of analysts did the math and reported that both Ireland and Greece were in a debt spiral that was inescapable, and that it's IMPOSSIBLE for them to avoid default.

Still, they all play the game, and aver that their countries will avoid default. Are they just lying, or do they have any justification at all for their aversion to the truth?

There are two unrealistic assumptions that they and others make, either consciously or unconsciously.

First, they believe that the current "recession" will pass, and that the global economy will return to the days of the huge real estate and credit bubbles. That's obviously impossible, but it's a visceral hope.

Second, they believe that quantitative easing and other government programs are going to lead to inflation and hyperinflation, which would wipe all debts out. Once again, that's impossible, since financial institutions are still rapidly deleveraging, meaning that each week there's less money in the world than there was the week before, and the world is in a deflationary spiral.

See "14-Feb-11 News -- Bangladesh stock market continues free fall, while Cairo's remains closed" for further information.

Cairo stock exchange opens and crashes

As the riots began in Egypt, Cairo's stock exchange crashed, falling 20% in a few days. (See "28-Jan-11 News -- Egypt stock market crashes as riots spread through Mideast.")

Cairo and Saudi Arabia stocks, 1/23/2011
Cairo and Saudi Arabia stocks, 1/23/2011

The stock exchange reopened on Wednesday for the first time since January 27, and fell an additional 8.9% in a shortened trading day, according to Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabia's stock exchange has partially recovered from the collapse that occurred when the riots occurred in neighboring Bahrain. Officials are hoping that it will recover further, but that may depend on whether the Mideast "Arab revolutions" begin to stabilize. So far, they show no sign of doing so.

Real estate continues its decline from the huge bubble

I saw Robert Shiller, co-author of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, on Bloomberg TV a few days ago, and he said that the real estate bubble in 2004-2007 was the "biggest bubble in world history."

Huh? How is that possible? At the time it was going on, there were a few people (like me) around who were calling it a huge bubble, but if you listened to the journalists and analysts and politicians on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, you were told that there was no real estate bubble at all.

Mainstream financial analysts, economists and journalists would say, "Housing prices can't go down -- people have to live somewhere," and "Banks won't foreclose -- it's not in their interest to do so" and "These housing construction firms know what they're doing, and they wouldn't be building houses if it were just a bubble."

What I mean is this: If it was the biggest real estate bubble in history, then it must have been bigger than a tsunami, and we don't have trouble seeing what a tsunami does. How come we can't see the biggest bubble in history?

Well, sorry for the rant, but existing home sales fell 9.6% in February from January, much more than expected, according to the National Association of Realtors, the organization which, in 2005-2007, was the most notorious in claiming that there was no real estate bubble.

Prices for existing homes fell 5.2% from February 2010. "Distressed homes" accounted for 39% of the sales. The percentage of all-cash sales was at an all-time record of 33%, because mortgages are generally unavailable to most buyers. That was existing home sales.

Sales of new homes fell a phenomenal 16.9% to a record low in February, the lowest since records began in 1963, according to Reuters.

Bill McBridge at the Calculated Risk blog, has provided the following graph of the "Distressing Gap":

'Distressing' Gap (Calculated Risk)
'Distressing' Gap (Calculated Risk)

He describes this graph as follows:

"[T]his graph shows existing home sales (left axis) and new home sales (right axis) through February. This graph starts in 1994, but the relationship has been fairly steady back to the '60s. Then along came the housing bubble and bust, and the "distressing gap" appeared (due mostly to distressed sales).

The gap is due mostly to the flood of distressed sales. This has kept existing home sales elevated, and depressed new home sales since builders can't compete with the low prices of all the foreclosed properties."

On almost every day for the last three years, I've been hearing that "real estate has reached a bottom and will start to go up." The people saying this are the same people who said that there wasn't a housing bubble in the first place.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the worst of the financial crisis has not yet occurred. There's no way to know what the trigger will be, but in this report I've described three different possibililties -- a European debt crisis, stock market crashes in developing nations, and continuing collapse of the real estate market.

The "Arab Revolutions" are destabilizing the Mideast more almost every day. Unless the Mideast begins to stabilize, the financial crisis trigger may be close.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-11 News -- Jerusalem bombing comes as Gaza/Israel border war may escalate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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23-Mar-11 News -- After massive disarray, Sarkozy announces Nato agreement for Libya

Border war between Gaza and Israel is escalating

After massive disarray, Sarkozy announces Nato agreement for Libya

Late on Tuesday, France's president Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he and president Barack Obama had reached an agreement to transfer from the United States to Nato the command of the military campaign in Libya.

Libya military action, March 21-22 (BBC)
Libya military action, March 21-22 (BBC)

The statement said, "The two presidents have come to an agreement on the way to use the command structures of NATO to support the coalition," without giving any additional details, according to the BBC.

For several days, Obama has been seeking such a command transfer, to occur as quickly as possible. The administration has indicated that it does not want the U.S. to have a leadership role in the third simultaneous invasion of a Muslim country.

This demand has led to something of a political circus in Brussels, as Nato ministers from different countries jockeyed with one another to demand that Nato take or not take command of the Libyan invasion.

Turkey is a member of Nato, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led the way in opposing Nato involvement the invasion. Hurriyet quotes him as saying that the distribution of humanitarian aid in Libya is acceptable, but nothing more:

"We do not want Libya to become a second Iraq ... A civilization in Iraq collapsed within eight years. More than a million people were killed there.

We will not participate with our fighting forces. It is impossible for us to think that our fighters would drop bombs over the Libyan people."

Sarkozy has also been opposed to a Nato command, saying that it would send "the wrong message" to the Arab world. British prime minister David Cameron has been the strongest supporter of a Nato command. Thus, Sarkozy made a proposal early on Tuesday to have Britain and France jointly command the Libyan action, leaving Nato out of it.

And so Sarkozy's evening announcement was quite a surprise. Sarkozy would like to take the lead in action on Libya because he's running for reelection next year, and has been suffering ruinous poll ratings, according to Reuters. Still the announcement of Nato involvement seems to indicate a defeat for him.

Additional details on the Nato agreement were made available by the Guardian. According to the article:

However, the circus may not be over, since this plan has to be put to a vote by all 28 members of Nato.

A couple of commentators have pointed out something I hadn't realized: President Obama started the action in Libya exactly 8 years, almost to the day, that President George Bush started the action in Iraq. There must be something in the White House water that causes Presidents to go to war exactly 26 months after entering office.

In January 2003, I wrote my first article for the Generational Dynamics web site. At that time, I was very tentative, and it was before I'd developed the forecasting methodology, but I wrote the following to describe one set of forecasts being put forth by economists in those days, just prior to the Iraq war: "Those who believe that once we do our quickie, no-pain, one-to-two-week war in Iraq, the stock market will rebound to its 1999 levels, up above 11,000."

This comment was meant to be sardonic without going too far out on a limb, since I was just starting out.

Now, eight years later, I'm much bitchier, much more cynical, much more paranoid, and I don't particularly trust anyone or believe what anyone says any more. But I still can't go too far out on a limb, because Who Knows? Maybe the Obama administration has a real plan that we don't know about. Or maybe Gaddafi will step down, or maybe someone will shoot him and blow his brains out.


I'm not one of those people who wish the United States or its President ill just because I don't like some of his policies. I sincerely hope that, either through skillful planning or through sheer unadulterated luck, President Obama pulls us through this crisis successfully, with our heads held high. But based on the information available today, I don't see how that can happen.

Additional links

Hamas and Israel started exchanging serious firepower last week, for the first time in over two years. (See "21-Mar-11 News -- March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel.") Now, the Israel Air Force has been stepping up its attacks on Gaza, and Israeli communities are receiving a daily dose of mortars and rockets. The border war between Gaza and Israel is escalating rapidly. Haaretz

Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh offered to step down from power by the end of the year, after a wave of defections by senior military officers, ministers and ambassadors was triggered by the massacre of peaceful protesters over the weekend. (See "16-Mar-11 News -- Yemen fighting escalates after Saturday's attack on protesters.") Saleh warned that the "mutiny" by senior commands would lead to a long battle, and that: "Those who want to seize power through coups must be aware that this will not happen. The homeland will not be stable; there will be a civil war, a bloody war. They should weigh this carefully." Independent

As the world focuses on crises in Libya and Japan, the UN is warning that Ivory Coast is becoming a growing humanitarian catastrophe. (See "7-Mar-11 News -- Escalating violence in Ivory Coast leads to enlarged U.N. peacekeeping force.") The number of refugees is now up to 500,000 and growing. BBC

Seven things not to say during a job interview. Fox Business

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-11 News -- After massive disarray, Sarkozy announces Nato agreement for Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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22-Mar-11 News -- Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions

Vladimir Putin says Libya intervention is a 'crusade'

Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions

Shortly after Japan experienced its earthquake and tsunami, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the colorful leader of one of Russia's opposition parties, called on Japanese citizens to migrate from their "dangerous islands," and move to the unpopulated territories in Russia's Far East in Siberia.

Birch Trees in Siberia, Russia (Alexander Krivenyshev)
Birch Trees in Siberia, Russia (Alexander Krivenyshev)

"We offer the way to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe," said Zhirinovsky according to Ria Novosti. "Russia will even benefit if such hardworking people join us."

The comment was not taken very seriously until Friday, when the idea was adopted by Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev discussed offering supplies of food and medical equipment to the Japanese, and added, "In general we must now think about the use, if necessary, of some of the employment potential of our [Japanese] neighbours, especially in sparsely populated areas of Siberia and the Far East," according to Moscow News.

Russia's Far East suffered rapid depopulation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the 1990s, there was enormous poverty and no support from the chaotic Moscow government. As a result, population fell by as much as 50% in the region, as millions migrated east, mostly to the European part of Russia.

However, Russia's Far East is also rich in natural resources, of which the most obvious is timber. This presents an opportunity for the Chinese, who have sent a flood of illegal migrants to re-populate the region, according to ABC News. The entire Far East has only 7.4 million people, while there are more than 70 million people in northeast China.

Thus, it's possible that Medvedev's offer to the Japanese to migrate to the Far East was motivated as a way to counter Chinese migration. At the very least, Moscow needs Japanese capital and technology to develop its Far East, according to an analysis by Jamestown.

However, this suggestion has infuriated xenophobic Russian nationalists, including many in the Russian population of the Far east, according to an analysis Paul Goble.

One Siberian activist said that Medvedev’s proposal is so dangerous and outrageous as to constitute treason and that it should lead to his impeachment. The activist lists five reasons why Medvedev should be impeached:

It sounds like a pretty vitriolic political argument, the same as many of the arguments we hear in Washington.

However, it's interesting because it's consistent with the expected lineup in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, based on Generational Dynamics analysis.

The reasoning is as follows: China will be allied with Pakistan, which will be allied with the Arab nations. Pakistan will be at war with India, which will be allied with Japan, Iran, Russia and the West. Thus, the closer relationship between Japan and Russia moves the world farther along that path, even though Japan and Russia never signed a peace agreement after World War II.

Vladimir Putin says Libya intervention is a 'crusade'

A rare public disagreement has developed between Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, according to CNN.

On Monday, Putin said that the UN Security Council resolution authorizing the no-fly zone was "obviously incomplete and flawed":

"It resembles a medieval appeal for a crusade in which somebody calls upon somebody to go to a certain place and liberate it. ...

In Bill Clinton's times. Yugoslavia and Belgrade were bombed. Bush sent armed forces into Afghanistan. A far-fetched and totally false pretext was used to invade Iraq, and the entire Iraqi leadership was eliminated, even children in Saddam Hussein's family died.

"And now, it's Libya's turn -- under the pretext of protecting civilians. But it's the civilian population who dies during those airstrikes against (Libyan) territory. Where is the logic and the conscience? There is neither."

However, Medvedev scolded Putin a few hours later:

"It is absolutely inexcusable to use expressions that, in effect, lead to a clash of civilizations -- such as 'crusades,' and so on. That is unacceptable.

[Otherwise,] everything could end up in far worse shape than it is now. It is important to remember this."

Both Putin and Medvedev are expected to be running for president in Russia's 2012 election.

Additional links

The Obama administration would like to hand over command of the Libya intervention to another country in a matter of days, but finding an appropriate leader is proving to be difficult. The most obvious candidate is Nato, but Turkey is part of Nato, and Turkey is blocking Nato's participation in Libya. Spiegel

Yemen's government continues to collapse, amid violence directed at protesters. On Monday, Yemen's ambassadors to Jordan, Egypt, Emirates, Algeria, China, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, and Syria all resigned, in protest to the violence. On Sunday, Yemeni Ambassadors in Pakistan, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Japan, UN, and Spain announced their support of the protesters. The protesters are demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down. Yemen Post

For the fourth consecutive day, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Deraa in southern Syria, to protest corruption and to demand that Syria's president Bashar al Assad step down. Although most of the population is Sunni Muslim, the ruling elite in Syria are composed primarily of people who follow the Allawi religious sect, which is an independent religion with some elements of both Islam and Christianity. The National (UAE)

Clinton woman to be Playboy Playmate. Associated Press

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-11 News -- Russian offer of Japanese resettlement raises xenophobic tensions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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21-Mar-11 News -- March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel

Arab League support for attack on Libya is fraying

March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel

Israel has vowed to lash back at Hamas, after Hamas reversed a two-year old policy and took credit for launching anti-tank missiles and mortars into southern Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Gaza Palestinians demand reconciliation between factions
Gaza Palestinians demand reconciliation between factions

These were the worst attacks since Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which ended in early 2009.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he viewed seriously the "criminal attacks by Hamas on Israeli citizens. Israel will take all necessary measures to defend its citizens." He added that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) will consider resuming ground action in Gaza.

Hamas announced that the reason for the attacks was the Israel Air Force attack Wednesday on a Hamas training camp. But that attack was a tit-for-tat result of Hamas missile strike a few hours earlier, according to an analysis by Haaretz, which points out that neither side wants a wider war at this time.

However, the motivation for Hamas's attacks is far more complex, according to an analysis by the Palestine News Network.

While the world media have been focused on the "Arab Revolutions" occurring in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, there is also one growing in the Palestinian territories.

Known as the "March 15 Movement," it's a youth-driven movement demanding that the competing Palestinian factions, Fatah (Palestinian Authority (PA) / Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)) versus Hamas, reconcile with one another. Fatah governs the West Bank, while Hamas governs Gaza, following a 2007 war between the two factions.

The March 15 youth movement is still demonstrating against the Israelis, but this particular movement has as its objective the reconciliation of the two Palestinian factions.

Hamas is opposed to any reconciliation, and so Hamas has reversed its position and is launching mortars into southern Israel, in the hope of triggering an Israeli incursion into Gaza, according to the analysis.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Fatah and Hamas represent two different generations.

In America, the Republican party largely represents the older Boomer/Silent generations, while the Democratic party largely represents middle generation, Generation-X. The young Millennial generation is split between the two, but is mostly pissed off by the extreme ideological division and bickering between the two groups.

In the Palestinian territories, Fatah represents the older generations, while Hamas represents the middle generation. The younger generation are pissed off at the division between the two, and are demanding reconciliation.

Just as in America people on each side are loathe to give up their comfortable ideologically extreme positions, members of Hamas, particularly, are not willing to give up their ideological positions and their control of Gaza. Thus, they're promoting a conflict with Israel in order to end the March 15 movement.

However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is pressing very hard for a reconciliation, according to the Jerusalem Post. Abbas is asking for help from Egypt, and is planning to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future, to discuss reconciliation.

According to the Palestine News Network, thousands of non-partisan youth flooded into Gaza's central square as March 15 approached, but were driven back by Hamas security forces with batons and metal rods. Journalists were also attacked, and their cameras and tapes were confiscated.

Apparently the only images of the demonstration that weren't destroyed are from the Maan News Agency, including the one shown at the beginning of this report.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast will re-fight the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine, and the creation of the state of Israel. As usual, Generational Dynamics tells you the final destination, but doesn't tell you the scenario that will occur to get there.

Recent events since the beginning of the "Arab Revolution" indicate that the coming regional war will not be split simply along Arab/Jewish lines. The passions that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 are in the past, and it would be a mistake to assume that the same behaviors and attitudes that were prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s are still prevalent today. The Arab nations have some of the highest birth rates in the world, meaning that the large young generations feel little or no connection to the attitudes of the past.

I've previously suggested that it appears likely that Egypt will side with Israel and the West in the coming war. (See "14-Feb-11 News -- Reader question about the Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood.") It's also worth noting that al-Qaeda's influence appears to be collapsing in the region, though the terrorist group is still dangerous.

The Hamas/Fatah split, and the working relationship that the PA has had with Israel, indicate that even among the Palestinians, there may be some that take the side of Israel, when forced to make a choice between what they consider to be the lesser of two evils. In treacherous times like these, every assumption must be questioned, and nothing can be taken for granted.

Arab League support for attack on Libya is fraying

Qatar is the first Arab country to announce that it will join the Western coalition against Libya, according to Bloomberg.

However, Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa is now objecting to the amount of force being used in Libya, according to the Washington Post. He said that the amount of force being used is not justified to implement a no-fly zone, and he would call a new Arab League meeting to reconsider their approval of the intervention.

The Arabs are far from united about the Libyan invasion, according to a Debka analysis. In particular, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt are opposed to the operation, although they're keeping quiet for now.

Furthermore, another weakness in the alliance is that it lacks an African partner. US officials had originally spoken of support form the African Union, but all governments of Africa are opposed to the ouster of Gaddafi, according to the analysis.

Yemen's ambassador to United Nations resigns over violence

President Ali Abdullah Saleh sacked his entire cabinet on Sunday, after continuing violence against anti-government protesters have left around 100 dead, many shot dead by government snipers, according to the Independent. Saleh has been in power since 1978, and the departure of his cabinet ministers leaves him increasingly isolated. The protesters are demanding that he step down.

Syria protesters torch buildings

Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Sunday in the city of Deraa in southern Lebanon, near the border of Jordan, One person was killed and scores injured when security forces used live rounds against protesters, according to Al-Jazeera. Dozens were also treated for tear gas inhalation.

Tunisia and Egypt are two countries where the trends are not worsening, but those are also the only two countries where the leaders stepped down almost immediately. These seems little chance of that happening in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria or Libya.

Since January, the Mideast has become more unstable almost every day. This is a major trend in a generational Crisis era, when this kind of instability is likely to increase. If the trend continues, then there will be regional war by the end of the year.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-11 News -- March 15 reconciliation movement triggers Hamas attacks on Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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20-Mar-11 News -- U.S. launches operation 'Odyssey Dawn' against Libyan targets

Hamas resumes mortar attacks on southern Israel

U.S. launches operation 'Odyssey Dawn' against Libyan targets

On Saturday, there were two major themes in the news. One: The U.S. took the lead in the military attack on Libya, launching 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Gaddafi's missile and communications sites. Two: U.S. officials stumbled over themselves to say that the U.S. was not really leading the attack, except temporarily.

Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney at Pentagon press briefing
Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney at Pentagon press briefing

French warplanes carried out the first air strkes on Saturday, just hours after French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the launch of military action against Libya, according to AFP.

That was followed an hour later by the announcement by the U.S. Dept. of Defense:

"U.S. military forces are on the leading edge of the coalition operation, taking out Libya’s integrated air and missile defense system, Defense Department officials said. The ordnance is aimed at radars and anti-aircraft sites around the capital of Tripoli and other facilities along the Mediterranean coast. ...

Cruise missiles from U.S. submarines and frigates began the attack on the anti-aircraft system. A senior defense official speaking on background said the attacks will “open up the environment so we could enforce the no-fly zone from east to west throughout Libya.”

In addition to the cruise missiles, the United States will provide command and control and logistics. American airmen and sailors also will launch electronic attacks against the systems.

The United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada already have announced that they are part of the coalition. Officials expect Arab countries will publicly announce their participation soon."

President Barack Obama made a statement to explain why the U.S. military appears to be leading the military attack:

"As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground. ...

I've acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world."

Commentators have emphasized that the success of this operation depends on participation by Arab countries.

No Arab countries have yet announced that they will participate.

However, representatives from Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and United Arab Emirates attended a Paris summit on Saturday to discuss the Libya operation, according to AFP. The article quotes an unnamed diplomat as saying that Qatar will participate militarily, as will other European nations, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.

There's always a lot of euphoria whenever a war starts. When the American Civil War started, there was cheering and partying in Charleston, while the ladies of Washington considered the whole thing to be a joke. They all changed their minds a few months later, after the bloody Battle of Bull Run had 5,000 casualties.

Perhaps the euphoria I heard today is justified. Perhaps all the Arab nations will join in, perhaps Muammar Gaddafi will be quickly forced to step down, and perhaps the quick and easy result that everyone is anticipating will occur.

Or, perhaps there'll be problems, perhaps there'll be mission creep, and perhaps all the Arab nations that promised to help will back out, and will turn on the U.S. Perhaps there'll even be a American military catastrophe of some kind.

With the U.S. involved in three simultaneous wars in three Muslim countries, there is very little to feel euphoric about.

Russia now regrets the Security Council resolution on Libya

Russia abstained during the vote on Thursday's UN Security Council resolution, authorizing the military assault on Libya. But now Ria Novosti reports that a spokesman from Russia's Foreign Ministry is backing down from "the hastily adopted UN Security Council resolution."

Hamas resumes mortar attacks on southern Israel

In other news on Saturday, Israel threatened to launch a new ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza, after Hamas reversed a two-year old policy and resumed mortar attacks into southern Israel, according to the LA Times.

Additional links

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah promised a multibillion dollar package of reforms, raises, cash, loans and apartments on Friday, in an attempt to head off the violent protests that are occurring in other Arab nations. AP

Violence in Ivory Coast continues to escalate, and the United Nations refugee agency reports a significant rise in the number of refugees fleeing to neighboring Liberia and Ghana, straining resources there. VOA.

There's a gender gap in the Obama administration, where women (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice) pushed hard for the assault on Libya, while the men (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and White House chief of staff William Daley) opposing the assault. Despite what feminists claim, women are more warlike than men, but that's no surprise to any man who's been through a divorce. CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-11 News -- U.S. launches operation 'Odyssey Dawn' against Libyan targets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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19-Mar-11 News -- Obama takes international leadership for Libya military action

Bloody Friday spreads to Yemen and Syria

Obama takes international leadership for Libya military action

A week ago, the Obama administration had no position on a no-fly zone over Libya. The situation changed rapidly, and by Thursday the administration was in favor, but was working behind the scenes, allowing Britain and France to take the lead. (See "18-Mar-11 News -- UN declares war after Gaddafi threatens 'moment of truth'".)

Cheering Benghazi residents watch President Obama live on large screen
Cheering Benghazi residents watch President Obama live on large screen

On Friday, President Obama took the international lead in advocating military action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

In his speech on Friday, he said the following:

"Once again, Qaddafi chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. Instead, he launched a military campaign against his own people. And there should be no doubt about his intentions, because he himself has made them clear.

For decades, he has demonstrated a willingness to use brute force through his sponsorship of terrorism against the American people as well as others, and through the killings that he has carried out within his own borders. And just yesterday, speaking of the city of Benghazi -- a city of roughly 700,000 people -- he threatened, and I quote: “We will have no mercy and no pity” -- no mercy on his own citizens.

Now, here is why this matters to us. Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow. ...

Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.

In this effort, the United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone -– it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together. ...

Let me close by saying that there is no decision I face as your Commander in Chief that I consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force. Particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq, that decision is only made more difficult. But the United States of America will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security. So I have taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone. Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong. Thank you very much."

Big crowds of cheering Libyans watched the speech on a huge television screen in central Benghazi. Although Obama took pains to mention that the US was not acting alone, it seemed clear to the cheering crowds this was Obama's show.

President Obama's speech is receiving criticism because he did not demand that Gaddafi step down.

Libya's foreign minister announced on Friday that Libya would abide by the UN Security Council resolution, and would abide by a cease-fire. However, al-Jazeera kept reporting continuing attacks by Gaddafi's forces on civilians. Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the U.N., accused Gaddafi of violating the cease-fire. She told CNN that the "U.S. is ready to act" and that Gadhafi "should be under no illusions that if he doesn't act immediately he will face swift and sure consequences, including military action." She added, "We are focused immediately on protection of civilians, on ensuring that the march to Benghazi does not continue and that those who are most vulnerable have the rights and protections that they deserve."

The U.S. is now fully committed to preventing a massacre, or anything that appears to be sufficiently like a massacre, against Libyan civilians. Any military action is permitted except, apparently, the use of foreign troops on the ground in Libya. British and French aircraft will participate, but it remains to be seen whether any Arab League countries will participate.

Either way, the US is now in the lead in foreign wars in three different Muslim countries.

Bloody Friday spreads to Yemen and Syria

Many of the biggest protests have occurred on Fridays, as people pour out of the mosques after midday prayers. On this Friday, violence in Yemen reached a new high, and the first large demonstration occurred in Syria.

Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 41 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa, according to Al-Jazeera. This is the worst violence in Yemen in decades.

There was no indication how long the state of emergency would last.

Public protests were almost unknown in Syria, until now. On Friday in the city of Deraa in the south of Syria, near the border with Jordan, several thousand people conducted anti-government demonstrations, chanting, "God, Syria, Freedom," according to Reuters.

Security forces were reinforced with troops flown in by helicopters. At least three people were killed, and dozens more were wounded.

So if you're keeping score, the "Arab Revolution" has now spread to the following countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

The U.S. is involved in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Additional links

Young protesters in Iraq's generational Awakening period are developing their own voice: "What we have passed through is like a dark dream. We believe in Iraq as the primary identity, not sect or religion." In 2006 and 2007, when the NY Times, NBC News, and others on the left were saying that Iraq was in a worsening Sunni/Shia civil war, I pointed out that a civil war was impossible, and that Iraqis have historically considered themselves to be Iraqis first, and Sunnis or Shia second. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.) This new youth movement would be repeating that historical trend. Washington Post

Al-Qaeda has essentially been irrelevant in the recent Arab uprisings, with its regional appeal declining and its networks under severe pressure everywhere. Jamestown

Saudi Arabian officials, led by King Abdullah, are still furious that President Obama threw Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak under the bus so quickly, and now Obama has almost no influence in Saudi Arabia. In particular, "King Abdullah has been clear that Saudi Arabia will never allow Shia rule in Bahrain — never." NY Times

The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry. Bloomberg

London's left-wing Guardian newspaper whines that the US military has developed software allowing it to control separate identities on online social networks. (LOL! Everyone does this, and you don't need special software.) Guardian

Russia considers the United States, not Japan, to be its main enemy in the Pacific region. However, Russia's relationship with Japan is challenged by an acute crisis over the South Kurile islands, which used to belong to Japan, but which Russia took over after World War II. Jamestown

Adding to Japan's problems, the salt water tsunami may have ruined enough Japanese farmland that its national rice production will be threatened, requiring more imports of rice. AgriMoney

News you can use: 25 techniques for disinformation.

Why would you date a man who can't punctuate? Telegraph

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-11 News -- Obama takes international leadership for Libya military action thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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18-Mar-11 News -- UN declares war after Gaddafi threatens 'moment of truth'

Residents of Benghazi cheer the UN Security Council resolution

UN declares war after Gaddafi threatens 'moment of truth'

Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi's televised speech on Thursday, threatening that "the moment of truth had come" for Benghazi, motivated the United Nations Security Council to quickly approve a resolution permitting "all necessary means" to be used to prevent the "slaughter of civilians."

Defiant Benghazi residents shout angry slogans at Gaddafi, as they listen to his speech.
Defiant Benghazi residents shout angry slogans at Gaddafi, as they listen to his speech.

Early reports indicate that Gaddafi's air force is striking targets and dropping bombs in Benghazi, but that ground forces are still too far away. Commentators do not believe that Saif Gaddafi's claims on Wednesday of victory within 48 hours will be realized.

The U.N. vote was met with wild cheers and celebratory gunfire in Benghazi. Al-Jazeera is reporting is that Egypt began shipping weapons across the border to opposition fighters minutes after the U.N. vote. France says that air strikes will begin within hours.

The vote by the Security Council was 10-0, with five abstentions. The US, UK, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Colombia, South Africa and Portugal voted to approve the resolution, while China, Russia, Brazil, Germany and India abstained.

The following are the important excerpts from the UN resolution:

"The Security Council, ...

Expressing grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties, ...

Condemning the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions, ...

Recalling the condemnation by the League of Arab States, the African Union, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference of the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that have been and are being committed in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, ...

4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.

5. Recognizes the important role of the League of Arab States in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, ... requests the Member States of the League of Arab States to cooperate with other Member States in the implementation of paragraph 4;

6. Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians; ...

13. Calls upon all Member States, in particular States of the region, ... in order to ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo ..., to inspect in their territory, including seaports and airports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited, ... including the supply of armed mercenary personnel, calls upon all flag States of such vessels and aircraft to cooperate with such inspections and authorises Member States to use all measures commensurate to the specific circumstances to carry out such inspections; ...

17. Decides that all States shall deny permission to any aircraft registered in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or owned or operated by Libyan nationals or companies to take off from, land in or overfly their territory unless the particular flight has been approved in advance by the Committee, or in the case of an emergency landing; ..."

Commentators are indicating that the phrase "all necessary means" takes this much farther than the minimum necessary to establish a no-fly zone. However, the resolution specifically excludes ground troops, much to the relief of a lot of people.

Nonetheless, so much is allowed by this resolution, that almost anything can happen in the next few weeks.

Here's the rousing conclusion of Gaddafi's speech to the people of Benghazi earlier in the day, according to Al-Jazeera's live blog, where he refers to the opposition forces:

"They are finished, they are wiped out. From tomorrow you will only find our people. You all go out and cleanse the city of Benghazi. A small problem that has become an international issue. And they are voting on it tonight ... because they are determined. As I have said, we are determined. We will track them down, and search for them, alley by alley, road by road, the Libyan people all of them together will be crawling out. Massive waves of people will be crawling out to rescue the people of Benghazi, who are calling out for help, asking us to rescue them. We should come to their rescue.

And I, Muammar Gaddafi, I will die for my people. With Allah's help.

No more fear, no more hesitation, we are no longer reluctant. The moment of truth has come. If you see the cars with loudspeakers, destroy them, destroy their communications points that are spreading lies to you. Our children are the one's who have destroyed these planes.

Just like Franco in Spain, who rolled into Madrid with external support. And they asked how did you manage to liberate Madrid? He said: 'There was a fifth column, the people of the city.' You are the fifth column within the city. This is the day on which we should liberate the city. We've been looking forward to that day. And tomorrow we will communicate again, and our cause will continue towards the south.

With our bare chests and heads we were confronting the dangers, facing the challenge, we did not initiate this violence, they started it. Of course, these words will have an impact on the traitors and infidels. Tonight they will panic and they will collapse.

You are capable of doing it. You are capable of achieving this. Let's set our women and daughters free from those traitors.

God is great."

As we've seen in the past, Gaddafi seems to be deeply in denial about what's going on in Benghazi, and how unpopular he is.

In other news on Thursday, Reuters reports that Kuwait is sending its navy to Bahrain to protect Bahrain's waters. Kuwait is thus the second country from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), joining Saudi Arabia in injecting its armed forces into the growing Shia vs Sunni conflict in Bahrain.

It was just a few days ago that the United States administration had no position on a no-fly zone in Libya, and China, Russia and Germany were adamantly opposed.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're in a generational Crisis era, and the Middle East seems every day closer to an explosion. How quickly things can change in a Crisis era!

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-11 News -- UN declares war after Gaddafi threatens 'moment of truth' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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17-Mar-11 News -- Saif Gaddafi says his forces will win within 48 hours

China buying cropland in Latin America

Saif Gaddafi says his forces will win within 48 hours

Muammar Gaddafi's forces bombarded Benghazi, the stronghold of Libya's opposition, on Wednesday, and spread leaflets around the city suggesting to residents that they give up the fight against Gaddafi now, according to Reuters.

Pro-Gaddafi forces celebrating victory in Ajdabiyah on Wednesday (Reuters)
Pro-Gaddafi forces celebrating victory in Ajdabiyah on Wednesday (Reuters)

In an interview with Reuters, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said, "The military operations are finished. In 48 hours everything will be over. Our forces are close to Benghazi. Whatever decision is taken [with respect to the no-fly zone], it will be too late."

The prospect of a Gaddafi victory is causing some tempers to fray, because no decision is being reached on instituting a no-fly zone over Libya.

Both BBC and al-Jazeera have been running interviews with people of Benghazi begging for help. A typical interview, usually of a young woman, goes something like, "Please don't forget us. We just want our freedom like everyone else. Please give us a no-fly zone so that Gaddafi can't kill us."

In the European Parliament on Wednesday, some MEPs have been expressing disgust. AFP quotes ex-premier Guy Verhofstadt:

"There are thousands of heroes. We know who they are but Gaddafi knows as well. He knows their names and their families. If he takes Benghazi it will be nothing more than a massacre, a new Srebrenica, a new Rwanda, a new Darfur.

This makes me sick of the EU. We have learnt nothing at all from history. When Gaddafi is back shall we say business as usual? Are we going to close our eyes again? Will we add one black page more to European history?

I count on France, on Britain, on the US to take action — not on the EU!"

This shows how the no-fly zone question is much more emotional in Europe than in the U.S., where most Americans couldn't find Libya on a map, or tell you what continent it's on. Europeans are still torn over WW II issues, with some younger Europeans often expressing xenophobia towards Muslims, and some older Europeans fearing that the lessons of the Holocaust have been forgotten.

Indeed, France and Britain have been the main proponents of military intervention with a no-fly zone. The Obama administration has not taken a position either way, something that's drawn accusations of dithering.

An analysis by the Guardian lists the major players in each camp:

The reluctance of the Obama administration to support a no-fly zone would seem to kill the idea, but the possibility of a rebel rout is causing a striking shift in tone, according to an analysis by the NY Times.

According to the article, administration officials are now moving toward the following policy:

The article quotes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as responding to a question about why the administration was changing policy. "The turning point was really the Arab League statement on Saturday. That was an extraordinary statement in which the Arab League asked for Security Council action against one of its own members."

What Clinton didn't mention was that the Arab League statement was essentially contradictory, since it demanded a no-fly zone, but also demanded no foreign intervention in Libya. (See "13-Mar-11 News -- Arab League unanimously requests a no-fly zone over Libya.")

Still, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're in a generational Crisis era, and we seem to be rushing headlong into a true, major crisis.

Additional links

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi says that France's President Nicolas Sarkozy owed his election to Libyan funding, and Gaddafi says that he wants his money back. Euro News

China's largest agricultural firm is planning to acquire or least 494,000 acres of farmland in Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela, as well as in Russia, The Philippines, Australia and Zimbabwe. Latin American Herald Tribune

Of an estimated 150 million migrant workers in China, 90 million are under 30 and they are driving one of the most significant demographic shifts in the country's history, as they leave rural areas and pack into the large cities, with no intention of leaving. (Reminds me of the World War I song: "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?") Washington Post

New cars are sporting increasingly sophisticated computer systems, and the hackers aren't very far behind. A researcher has discovered how a hacker can take control of some cars by means of a malicious music file. The hacker adds some additional data to the music file, and when you simply play the music on your car stereo, it installs software in the car computer system that allows a hacker to control the car remotely. In an experiment, they were able to kill the engine, lock or unlock the doors, turn off the brakes, or falsify speedometer readings. IT World

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-11 News -- Saif Gaddafi says his forces will win within 48 hours thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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16-Mar-11 News -- Yemen fighting escalates after Saturday's attack on protesters

Bahrain declares three month state of emergency and martial law

Yemen fighting escalates after Saturday's attack on protesters

Saturday's massive attack by Yemen's security forces on unarmed protesters in Sanaa (see "13-Mar-11 News -- Police in Yemen fire live bullets on protesters, killing three"), killing two protesters and injuring over 100, is having repercussions in the form of increased violent clashes, with an increasing danger of civil or tribal war.

Riots in Yemen (Reuters)
Riots in Yemen (Reuters)

The purpose of the protests is to force President Ali Abdullah Salih to step down, but many tribal leaders fear the chaos that would result if Salih stepped down too quickly, according to Jamestown. As a result, tribal leaders are splitting along pro-government and pro-opposition lines, and fighting between the tribes is escalating.

Saturday's attack used live ammunition and teargas. The attack was sufficiently brutal that protesters claimed that security forces had used poison gas, forcing US ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein to express disbelief in those accusations, in an interview appearing in Yemen Observer:

"The second point is we don't have the expertise to make any decisions about what kind of chemical agents were used the other day in the demonstrations. We are reasonably confident that the allegations that there was sarin or mustard gas used are not correct. First of all, if sarin were used, it's a highly lethal nerve gas, there would have been five hundred people dead, not one person dead. Secondly, mustard gas is a blistering agent that is very obvious if it's been used.

Nobody has presented any evidence, nobody has presented anybody who demonstrated any of the symptoms of exposure to mustard gas or also of course to sarin. Based on our own best guess, we believe that probably what was used was tear gas and smoke."

That there's public discussion of the use of sarin gas against unarmed protesters illustrates how hyperbolic the accusations on both sides have become.

On Tuesday, gunfights between pro-regime loyalists and opposition forces resulted in the death of a major opposition leader, according to Arab News. In other tribal violence on Tuesday, armed men attacked an oil pipeline carrying 120,000 barrels of oil per day to the Red Sea, forcing two oil fields to be shut down, according to Bloomberg.

The increased level of violence is devastating Yemen's economy, especially the local banks, according to the Islamic Globe. Investors and savers are withdrawing large amounts of cash in US dollars from the Yemeni banking system and ceasing contributions, creating "chronic instability" which is "paralyzing the local banks."

Bahrain declares three month state of emergency and martial law

Violence also escalated on the streets of Bahrain on Tuesday, causing two more deaths, and over 200 new injuries, according to AFP.

The three-month state of emergence will hand wholesale power to Bahrain's security forces, and this will undoubtedly stoke further conflicts.

The world has changed very rapidly in the last couple of months. Japan is melting down, countries on the Arabian Peninsula, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, are facing anything from protests to sectarian violence, and global stock markets have become extremely volatile.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these are the kinds of breakdowns that occur in generational Crisis eras. Earthquakes, tsunamis and protests can occur in any era, and in non-crisis eras, countries and societiets can take them in their stride. But in a Crisis era, with the survivors of the previous crisis war (WW II) almost completely gone, countries and societies cannot take these events in stride, but allow them to turn into greater crises. That's what happening today, and what's expected to continue to happen in the months to come.

Additional links

Lampedusa Island
Lampedusa Island

Thousands of migrants from Tunisia are landing on the tiny island of Lampedusa, which is Italian territory, hoping to be able to live and work in Europe. CNN.

Muammar Gaddafi's forces appear increasingly likely to win in Libya, as government forces are almost poised to recapture Benghazi back from the rebels. The UN Security Council is considering a no-fly zone resolution, but opposition by Germany, Russia and China makes it unlikely to pass. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-11 News -- Yemen fighting escalates after Saturday's attack on protesters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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15-Mar-11 News -- Bahrain uprising becomes explosive as Saudi troops arrive

Israel's army on high alert over Palestinian unity demonstrations

Bahrain uprising becomes explosive as Saudi troops arrive

Bahrain <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Bahrain (Source: CIA Fact Book)

The Bahrain uprising dramatically escalated on Monday, when 1,000 Saudi troops poured across the King Fahd Causeway into Bahrain to help quell protests by mainly Shia demonstrators, according to Reuters. Bahrain's population is 2/3 Shia, but the government is led by Sunni tribal leaders.

The Saudi intervention had been approved by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is dominated by Saudi Arabia. The GCC members are also part of the larger Arab League, which, on Saturday, approved international intervention in Libya. (See "13-Mar-11 News -- Arab League unanimously requests a no-fly zone over Libya.")

The Saudis are motivated by concern that their own Shia population, making up 15% of the total population, will be "infected" by the Bahrain protests and start protesting themselves.

Bahrain's responses to peaceful protests have been particularly violent, and have even shocked the international community. (See "18-Feb-11 News -- Bahrain's government chooses the massacre scenario.")

Now, once again, the international community is shocked by this new development. The entry of foreign troops into Bahrain has surprised the Pentagon, according to CNN. Both the Obama administration and the United Nations are calling for restraint, but those calls are obviously not being heeded.

The Generational Dynamics prediction, which I have been discussing for years, is that there will be a new Mideast war re-fighting the genocidal war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. As usual, Generational Dynamics tells you what your destination will be, but doesn't tell you the scenario that will occur to get you there.

I had always assumed that the war would start in the "center" -- in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, perhaps Egypt -- and spread outward to the other Mideast countries. But now we see the opposite happening: The wars are starting on the periphery of the Mideast -- Bahrain, Yemen, Libya -- and presumably will spread toward the center. Either way, the level of tension and conflict across the Mideast is growing.

Additional links

Israel's armed forces (IDF) will be on high alert throughout the West Bank on Tuesday, as thousands of Palestinians are expected to participate in demonstrations against Israel and in support of Fatah-Hamas unity. Jerusalem Post

A new poll shows that Europeans are increasingly turning away from support for Israel towards support for the Palestinians. The article puts forth a variety of unconvincing explanations for the change in attitude, but I'll stick with the most obvious explanation, the generational one. The tremendous worldwide sympathy for Israel, and indeed the original impetus for the approval of the creation of Israel, was the reaction to the Nazi Holocaust. But today, with the survivors of World War II almost gone, the memory of the Holocaust has lost its power. Guardian

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Mar-11 News -- Bahrain uprising becomes explosive as Saudi troops arrive thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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14-Mar-11 News -- Mideast turmoil raises concerns in China over oil

Tensions grow in the South China Sea and East China Sea

Mideast turmoil raises concerns in China over oil

On Thursday, Libyan authorities sent a Chinese oil tanker back to China without its intended cargo of 2 million barrels of oil, according to Reuters. The ship will go to Algeria instead, to purchase oil there.

South China Sea, with blue line added to show region claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, including oil and gas deposits
South China Sea, with blue line added to show region claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, including oil and gas deposits

Events like this, arising out of the turmoil in the Mideast, are of great concern to China because of its enormous dependence on imported oil.

China imports about 2.9 million barrels of oil a day from the Mideast, including 1.1 million barrels a day from Saudi Arabia alone, according to the Wall Street Journal (Access). So the turmoil in the Mideast, and especially in Saudi Arabia, represents something of an existential threat to the Chinese. China's dependence on the Mideast is only going to increase, because China's oil imports will increase.

The increasing anxiety on the part of the Beijing government over its dependence on imported oil is undoubtedly a big part of the reason why China has become extremely aggressive in claiming sovereignty over large regions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Last year, a confrontation was growing with China on one side, and with the US, Vietnam and other Asian countries on the other side. (See "24-Jul-10 News -- US confronts China on South China Sea claims.")

China is very aggressively claiming that the entire South China Sea region, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands and some 200 other islands, is China's sovereign terrority, and that they have the right to prohibit foreign ships from entering that region.

The islands themselves may be of little value, but the region is suspected of being rich in oil and gas. Thus, they're claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Now that confrontation is growing once again.

On Tuesday of last week, the heads of state for Indonesia and the Philippines met in Jakarta to discuss cooperation on combating terrorism, but also to discuss forming a common front to counteract China's claims to the Spratly and Paracel islands, according to the Asia Sentinel.

Just as important as the oil and gas rights to the region is the issue of freedom of navigation across the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest waterways. If China were allowed to assert sovereignty over the region, then the interests of all Asian nations, as well as those of the United States, would be harmed.

China repeated its previously stated hard line on the issue. A Chinese Foreign Ministry official is quoted as saying that they're willing to talk about it, but the bottom line is: "China holds indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters."

China is not stopping with claims to the islands in the South China Sea. China also is in a simmering dispute with Japan over the issue of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands (called the Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese) in the East China Sea. In 2005, the dispute became so bitter that military action was being threatened on both sides. (See "China and Japan head for military confrontation over disputed islands.")

Then a new confrontation developed last year, when the Japanese arrested a Chinese fishing trawler captain, but was forced by the Chinese to return him to China. (See "26-Sep-10 News -- China turns the screws on a humiliated Japan.")

Last week, the conflict flared again, when Japanese jets confronted Chinese planes near the disputed islands. However, the Chinese planes didn't enter Japanese air space, and so the Japanese decided not to lodge a complaint, according to the BBC.

This conflict could end up involving the United States. The disputed islands are currently administered by the Japanese, and last year Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that America is committed to defending Japan, under a 1960 treaty, if China attacks the disputed islands.

So the turmoil in the Mideast doesn't just threaten the world with having to shiver in winter. It also threatens military confrontations between China and other Asian nations, as well as the United States.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-11 News -- Mideast turmoil raises concerns in China over oil thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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13-Mar-11 News -- Arab League unanimously requests a no-fly zone over Libya

Government payouts make up more than a third of US wages

Arab League unanimously requests a no-fly zone over Libya

Convoy of rebel fighters in Libya (AFP)
Convoy of rebel fighters in Libya (AFP)

An emergency meeting of the Arab League on Saturday passed a unanimous resolution demanding a no-fly zone over Libya, to protect the civilians in Libya, at the time of a "very bloody situation." The Telegraph quotes the official statement as saying, "The Arab League has officially requested the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone against any military action against the Libyan people."

The White House hailed the request as an "important step," according to the Washington Post. The White House statement says that now there's a clear international message that the violence in Libya must stop.

The Arab League vote fulfills one of the major conditions imposed by the European Union before they would agree to a no-fly zone. (See "12-Mar-11 News -- Europeans split on recommending a military no-fly zone over Libya.")

At the emergency EU summit on Friday, the British and French favored establishing a no-fly zone, but the Germans strongly opposed it. The final statement said, "The European council expresses its deep concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air. In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided there is demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region."

The Arab League vote provides the necessary "support from the region," and Gaddafi's tanks and air strikes provide the "demonstrable need," especially as Libya's armed forces appear to be recapturing cities lost in the east.

All that's now required is a "clear legal basis." For that, the ambassador from Lebanon, the only Arab country currently represented on the UN Security Council, will request an emergency meeting, and submit a draft resolution approving a no-fly zone. Russia and China usually veto such resolutions, but in this case it's thought that they will simply abstain, allowing the resolution to pass.

If and when that happens, the last political obstacle to the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya will presumably be eliminated.

I watched much of the Arab League press conference on al-Jazeera, and here are some interesting things that I heard that are not being widely reported in the media:

Several days ago, I suggested that the Arab League is playing a sophisticated version of the game Let's You and Him Fight. That seems to be all the more true today.

All in all, this appears to be an approaching catastrophe.

Police in Yemen fire live bullets on protesters, killing three

In a pre-dawn Saturday raid, Yemen's security forces fired live bullets and teargas at pro-democracy protesters in the capital, Sanaa, where thousands were camped out for the past month to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 32 years. Three protesters were killed, according to AP.

In an interview on Saturday, the US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald M. Feierstein, said that the unrest is in a "dangerous" phase, according to AFP. "Of course we believe that the uncertainty and instability is helpful to Al-Qaeda and some of the extremist groups," he said. Yemen is the headquarters of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Looking at the Mideast as a whole, there is little sign that the violent confrontations in Arab countries are leveling off. The Generational Dynamics prediction is that the Mideast is headed for a new war between Arabs and Jews, refighting the genocidal war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

With Yemen speeding toward an internal conflict, and the West speeding toward war in Libya, we may be seeing some real action before long.

Additional links

Government payouts -- including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance -- make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population. This figure will increase as Boomers retire. CNBC

With China's aggressive claims to the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea (see "11-Aug-10 News -- US and Vietnam conduct naval exercises in South China Sea"), several south Asian nations are forming an alliance to create a common front to dispute China's claims. Asia Sentinel

The regions of Japan most affected by Friday's earthquake have about $300-700 billion of insured property. Not all property was damaged, of course, and analysts are estimating $10-50 billion in insurance payouts. Wall Street Journal (Access).

Protesters in Germany have been demanding an end to the use of nuclear power in Germany for a long time, but the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown is refueling the protests. On Saturday, protesters formed a 40,000 person human chain around a nuclear power plant. Deutsche-Welle

China has 13 sets of nuclear power installations in operation, and many more under development, and will not change its plans because of the nuclear power problems in Japan. Xinhua

On March 19 we'll see a "supermoon" -- a full moon which is near its point of closest approach to the earth. However, it's completely unrelated to the earthquake in Japan. Live Science

For math geeks: What pi sounds like. College Humor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-11 News -- Arab League unanimously requests a no-fly zone over Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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12-Mar-11 News -- Europeans split on recommending a military no-fly zone over Libya

Left-wing violence spreads to Wisconsin

Europeans split on recommending a military no-fly zone over Libya

At an emergency European Union summit in Brussels on Friday, European politicians clashed over the issue of a "no-fly zone" over Libya, to prevent Muammar Gaddafi's air force from killing civilians from the air.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British prime minister David Cameron. According to the Guardian, Cameron was advocating the following EU statement: "We support continued planning with Nato allies and other partners, including those in the region, to be ready to provide support for all possible contingencies as the situation evolves, including a no-fly zone."

Officials from other EU states, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, strongly rebuffed Cameron and Sarkozy. The wording of the final compromise statements was as follows: "The European council expresses its deep concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air. In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided there is demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region."

The "clear legal basis" would be a UN Security Council resolution, and "support from the region" would require support from the African Union and the Arab League.

The Arab League will be holding an emergency meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the Arab League. EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton will be attending, according to Arab Monitor. The purpose of the meeting is to decide whether the Arab League should take the lead and submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Tuesday asking for a no-fly zone.

Intense fighting continued in Libya on Friday, as Gaddafi's forces used tanks and air power to destroy rebel positions, according to Al-Jazeera. Plumes of smoke were seeing billowing from an oil installation in one city, reportedly the result of military air strikes.

Saudi Arabia's 'Day of Rage' protest fizzles

The widely predicted mass demonstrations that were to occur on Friday did not occur, although a few hundred protesters did turn out in several cities, according to the LA Times.

A massive police presence was credited with keeping protests to a minimum, but possibly most important was a massive amount of aid injected into the economy in recent days. King Abdullah provided $36 billion in jobless benefits, education subsidies, housing subsidies and debt write-offs, according to Bloomberg.

Left-wing violence spreads to Wisconsin

I wrote last year about "The rise of left-wing violence around the world," especially in Europe. The first signs of it spreading to the United States are appearing in the political battle in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the Wisconsin state Department of Justice said that it has identified the sender, an unnamed, female suspect, of at least two e-mail messages that threatened to kill Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Republicans over the controversial anti-collective bargaining bill signed by Walker Friday.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-11 News -- Europeans split on recommending a military no-fly zone over Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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11-Mar-11 News -- Saif Gaddafi declares all out war on Libya opposition

Widespread Arab protests expected on Friday

Saif Gaddafi declares all out war on Libya opposition

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi, said in a television interview by Reuters that the Libyan army has been patient enough with the rebels, and implied that a full-scale assault on the rebels is at hand.

Some excerpts:

"The French, the Europeans, they should talk to the Libyan people. ... If they want to support the militia, do it. But I tell you: you are going to lose. We will win. And we are not afraid of the American fleet, NATO, France, Europe. This is our country. We are here, we will die here."

"We will never ever give up. We will never ever surrender. This is our country. We fight here in Libya. The Libyan people, we will never ever welcome NATO, we will never ever welcome Americans here. Libya is not a piece of cake. We are not a Mickey Mouse."

"It's time for liberation. It's time for action. We are moving now. Everybody is very excited."

"In a few days ... you will see a surprise, you will see people in the east ... defeating the militia. ... They don't represent anybody. They are self-appointed people. ... It's a joke, it's a Mickey Mouse council. Nobody is with them."

"But the West still lives in this fantasy. You will see a big surprise. Nobody welcomes NATO, the Americans to occupy Libya. ... Now it's too late for them. We are so united, we are so strong. And Libya will be free and peaceful soon."

"The army is very patient. They gave them (rebels) two weeks ... trying to reach a peaceful end. Two weeks. Even with terrorists, they were still patient."

Gaddafi was saying that the Libyan government was going to defeat the rebels, not something the West wants to hear.

Unfortunately, America's National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, agrees with Saif. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clapper said that Gaddafi would "prevail" over the rebels in Libya, according to CNN.

This was shocking to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and to Democrat Carl Levin. Apparently Graham and Levin, like so many other people in Washington, want to believe their own fantasies as long as possible.

According to an analysis in the Debka subscriber-only newsletter, forwarded to me by a subscriber, Gaddafi is militarily well prepared to fight the rebels, and particularly has very sophisticated spy tools:

Despite all these obstacles, the West is moving inexorably towards military action in Libya. (See also "10-Mar-11 News -- The U.S. and Nato stumble toward military intervention in Libya.")

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the first Western leader to recognize Libya's rebel opposition as the legitimate government of Libya. Sarkozy is also proposing that Nato conduct air strikes on three strategic targets in Libya, according to Agence France-Presse. Deutsche-Welle reports that Nato is moving warships close to Libya in the Mediterranean, and has radar aircraft monitoring Libya's airspace.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is planning to meet with Libya's opposition council next week, according to Al-Jazeera. "We are reaching out to the opposition inside and outside of Libya," she said. "I will be meeting with some of those figures, both in the United States and when I travel next week, to discuss what more the United States and others can do."

There are no good choices. If there's no outside intervention, then a vengeful Gaddafi will continue creating a humanitarian disaster with hundreds of thousands of refugees. If the west intervenes, then the war may escalate into a ground war, and continue for some time.

By the way, there was another interesting part of the testimony of National Intelligence Director, James Clapper on Thursday, according to CNN.

Carl Levin asked Clapper about what nation posed the greatest threat to the United States, expecting to hear Iran or North Korea.

Levin was shocked to hear Clapper say that Russia and China posed the greatest mortal threat, because of their nuclear arsenals and military capabilities. "Iran and North Korea are, you know of great concern. I don't know at this point in time they pose a direct mortal threat to the continental United States," he said.

Another Senator asked Clapper which nation has the "intent" to be the greatest adversary. Clapper said, "Probably China."

Levin was shocked again. This guy lives in a total Fantasyland.

It's nice to know that at least there's one person in Washington, James Clapper, who knows what's going on in the world.

Widespread Arab protests expected on Friday

Saudi Arabia police fired in the air to disperse protesters on Thursday, and three people were injured, according to Reuters. A spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said police fired over the heads of the crowd after they attacked a police officer who was documenting the protest, and said two protesters and a police officer were injured.

Friday is Saudi Arabia's "Day of Rage," when thousands of people are expected to protest.

A surge in Arab protests are expected in the Gulf states on Friday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

As in the case of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the time after midday Friday prayers has turned out to be crucial in many Arab countries, as people pour out of mosques onto the streets.

On Friday, protests are also planned for Yemen, Kuwait and Bahrain.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Mar-11 News -- Saif Gaddafi declares all out war on Libya opposition thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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10-Mar-11 News -- The U.S. and Nato stumble toward military intervention in Libya

Demand for 'synthetic' financial securities is growing

The U.S. and Nato stumble toward military intervention in Libya

The Arab League feels a "sense of urgency" over violence in Libya, and at its meeting on Saturday, it may call for a "no-fly zone" to protect civilians from air strikes by Muammar Gaddafi's forces, according to Bloomberg. Nothing in the news reports indicates that any Arab countries would participate militarily in the no-fly zone, and so one might say that the Arab League is playing a sophisticated version of the game Let's You and Him Fight.

Libya tribes (Spiegel)
Libya tribes (Spiegel)

"The no-fly zone, I think, is now the objective of the international community," according to an Arab League spokesman. "We’ve seen every day the battles are raging and there are more casualties, so I would think that within a week, something might have to be enforced. If we leave this for too long, things will be worse and worse for the people."

Actually, that's not true. The international community is quite split on the question, according to Spiegel. The mood seems to be to adopt the usual technique of dithering as long as possible until some crisis forces a decision. On the one hand, Gaddafi's forces are adopting increasingly brutal measures, and no one wants to see that; but on the other hand, the US and Nato just don't want to get involved in yet a third simultaneous war in a Muslim nation, especially since the no-fly zone might escalate into a ground war.

Thus, you get silly statements from people like European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who says that Gaddafi's actions are "completely unacceptable," and that he's "part of the problem, not part of the solution." EurActiv quotes him as adding,

"It is time for him to go and give the country back to the people of Libya, allowing democratic forces to chart out a future course. The situation we are seeing in Libya is simply outrageous. We cannot accept this.

I think it is our duty to say to the Arab peoples that we are on their side! From Brussels, I want to specifically say this to the young Arabs that are now fighting for freedom and democracy: 'We are on your side'."

Wow! A statement like that takes your breath away, doesn't it.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated that a no-fly zone was definitely on the table, according to Fox News, but it needs the backing of the international community, especially the United Nations Security Council:

"I think it's very important that this not be a U.S.-led effort, because this comes from the people of Libya themselves.

This doesn't come from the outside. This doesn't come from some Western power or some Gulf country saying this is what you should do, this is how you should live."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was thought to be opposed to military action in Libya, after some statements that he made last week criticizing "loose talk" about such a move. But Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters on Tuesday that Gates "has not staked out opposition to any particular course of action," according to the LA Times.

Last week, it was hoped that Gaddafi would step down as Libya's leader, thus putting an end to the crisis. It now appears that he's going to "fight till the last bullet," as his son promised a couple of weeks ago. Since Gaddafi will undoubtedly continue to use air power against the rebels and civilians, it appears likely that, sooner or later, the US and Nato will stumble into military action in Libya.

Apparently Gaddafi is worried about that too. Nato ministers are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, with or without a United Nations resolution, according to the Telegraph.

On Wednesday, Gaddafi sent envoys to Cairo and Brussels carrying messages to the Arab League and Nato, respectively, to try to head off any military action. Unfortunately, the messages will probably only serve to aggravate the people he's trying to soothe, and may increase the probability of military intervention. Still, it's unlikely that the Nato ministers will recommend anything more than applying some kind of band aid to the situation, for the time being.

In both the global financial and geopolitical areas, the survivors of WW II were well aware how small problems can spiral out of control into major crises and wars.

However, the experience since WW II is that small problems tend to disappear by themselves, without causing much damage. Hence, when a small problem occurs, international officials apply band aids, in order to supply a temporary solution, until the problem disappears by itself. The band aid itself may do harm or be harmless, but either way, the resolution of the problem is postponed, and the crisis is worse when it finally occurs.

Listening to various commentators, my sense is that it's generally assumed that the various Arab "revolutions" going on around the Mideast will soon peter out, and things will return to "normal."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're seeing just the opposite. Violence is growing in Libya. There have been clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Cairo. Muslim extremists have burned dozens of churches in Ethiopia. Anti-government demonstrations and violence is growing in Yemen. Iran's government is becoming increasingly split and divided. Tensions are growing between Iran and the Arab countries. And Saudi Arabia has a "day of rage" scheduled for Friday. And the underlying causes haven't changed, especially the continuing rise in food prices that are driving large populations into poverty.

What we're seeing is a trend toward growing instability in the Mideast during a generational Crisis era, at a time when the Generational Dynamics prediction is that there'll be a new Mideast war re-fighting the 1948 war between Israelis and Arabs.

This trend may not continue, but if it does, then the region may be at full-scale war within a few months.

World Conflict Risk
World Conflict Risk

The next question is: When does this regional war threaten to become a world war? That would be when the U.S. or Nato gets involved (as we might do in Libya), or when Israel gets involved.

It's interesting to note that as the various "revolutions" occur around the Arab world today, al-Qaeda is almost completely irrelevant, almost as if it didn't exist. This was particularly evident, for example, in a set of demands presented by the "coordinators of the Muslim Brotherhood youth revolution" last month in Egypt. The revolutionary demands, translated by MEMRI, don't even mention the U.S. or Israel, let alone jihad.

It's possible that al-Qaeda will succeed in its objective of creating a Sunni Muslim Arab country on the model of Iran's Great Islamic Revolution. But it's also possible, in the chaos of a regional ethnic and religious war, that, except for the 9/11 attack, jihadism will turn out to be just a footnote to the coming world war.

Additional links

Investors are increasingly demanding a new form of "synthetic" financial instrument that are backed by US corporate junk bonds in the same way that the CDOs that played a major part in the credit bubble were backed by residential mortgages. As we keep saying, the same people whose fraud caused the last crisis are still in the same jobs, committing new forms of fraud. Financial Times (Access).

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is increasingly downcast, because of Israel's poor international image. His concerns are confirmed by a BBC poll showing that Israel has one of the worst public images of any country. As a result, Netanyahu is preparing to lay out a plan for the phased creation of a Palestinian state. The National (UAE)

As he has several times in the past, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is hinting at resignation, if an independent Palestinian state is not established by September. Ma'an News Agency

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal says that they will not allow any foreign intervention into the affairs of their country. "We’ll cut off the fingers of those who try to interfere in our internal matters and we reject dictates from any foreign party, be it small or big. We’ll also reject any move that would undermine the Kingdom’s sovereignty," he said. He was apparently referring to Iran. Arab News

Our robot overlords will walk like us--and among us. Fast Company

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Mar-11 News -- The U.S. and Nato stumble toward military intervention in Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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9-Mar-11 News -- New violence makes Ivory Coast increasingly unstable

Muslims and Coptic Christians clash in Cairo

New violence makes Ivory Coast increasingly unstable

The security forces of Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down as president of Ivory Coast after losing an election last November, fired on demonstrators again on Tuesday, killing three men and a woman, according to VOA.

Ivory Coast is becoming increasingly unstable by the day, as more refugees are forced to flee their homes for safety.

An estimated 450,000 people have been forced to flee from the growing conflict in Ivory Coast, according to Reuters. Some 300,000 are displaced from the city of Abidjan alone.

President Barack Obama announced that he was making $12 million in aid available to help with the growing humanitarian crisis, according to UPI.

40,000 to 70,000 refugees are pouring into the neighboring country of Liberia, according to VOA. Officials are afraid that the large volume of refugees will destabilize Liberia, triggering a new civil war in that country.

However, Liberia's last generational crisis war was the civil war that ended in 2003, and so a new civil war in Liberia is impossible at this time, or if one starts, it will fizzle quickly.

Additional links

President Obama has issued an executive order reinstating military trials for alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay prison. Obama had repeatedly promised his supporters that he would close the prison within a year, but he's found it impossible to do so. Reinstating military trials is a major reversal of a campaign promise. As I've written many times, starting from the time of his campaign, Obama will not achieve any of his major promises, including universal health insurance. Events are out of the control of any politician. NY Times

Muslims and Coptic Christians clashed violently in Cairo on Tuesday, killing one person. 1,000 Copts had gathered to protest the burning of a church last week, and to protest discrimination against Copts. Al-Jazeera

Police opened fire on protesters in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, during anti-government protests. Three people were killed, and dozens more injured. Al-Jazeera

Black African refugees in Libya are being attacked and persecuted. Armed Libyans are going door to door, forcing black Africans to leave immediately. Muammar Gaddafi had recruited black Africans to serve as mercenaries. CNN

Jewish and Muslim leaders in Europe announced plans for a series of public events to fight growing Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism. Haaretz

Why is the turtle revered in Vietnam? Telegraph

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Mar-11 News -- New violence makes Ivory Coast increasingly unstable thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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8-Mar-11 News -- Moody's downgrades Greece's debt, triggering chain reaction

With the 'peace process' a joke, Palestinians try to reorganize

Moody's downgrades Greece's debt, triggering chain reaction

Moody's Investors Service suprised officials in Greece on Monday by slashing Greece's credit rating by three notches to "highly speculative," according to Reuters. Greece's debt is now rated lower than Egypt's debt.

Politically, Moody's move will increase pressure on eurozone leaders to ease repayment terms on Greece's bailout last May. However, as we've reported several times recently, the Germans are increasingly unwilling to spend their hard-earned and hard-saved euros on the profligate Greeks, and they'll resis any easing.

The move had a domino effect in Europe. Greece's bond yields (interest rates) rose to new highs, but so did yields on Portuguese and Irish bonds, according to Bloomberg. When investors demand high yields for a country's bonds, it means that investors are betting that the country will default.

A statement exhibiting a masterpiece of logic was issued Monday by Greece's Ministry of Finance, criticizing Moody's decision:

"The rating downgrade announced by Moody’s today is completely unjustified as it does not reflect an objective and balanced assessment of the conditions Greece is presently facing. Furthermore, its timing and the multi-notch nature of the downgrade are incomprehensible and raise a number of questions. ...

The arguments made can in no way be justified by the additional information available since Moody’s last downgrade in June 2010 and the progress achieved since. Instead, the announcement also anticipates the failure of specific policies - while a large number of reforms have already been implemented - including those relating to decisions at the European Union level that have not yet been taken and while critical discussions are ongoing before the March European Council meeting.

Specifically, the first reason that Moody’s cites to explain the downgrade is the scale of Greece’s structural reform programme and implementation risks it entails, both of which were well-known since May 2010 when the agreement with the EC/ECBIMF was signed. In the nine months since then Greece has showed its determination in both fiscal consolidation and in implementing reforms on an extraordinary scale. The reduction in the budget deficit by 6 percentage points of GDP and the primary deficit by more than 7 percentage points of GDP in 2010 are the strongest evidence that relative to last year the risk of sovereign default has not increased but rather decreased as Greece is on an bold path towards fiscal consolidation."

The logic of Greece's argument is that there's been no additional information since last May's bailout that justifies the lower rating.

The problem with that argument is that I and a number of other people pointed out last May that there wasn't a snowflake's chance in hell that Greece was going to be able to meet the terms of the bailout, and that Greece was going to default anyway.

So, Greece's Ministry of Finance is right. Moody's should not be lowering Greece's rating today. In truth, Moody's should have given Greece the low rating last May.

What Moody's did last year is that they lied to investors, as they've done so many times before. They gave Greece a higher rating than they should have, and any investors who put their faith in the ratings by Moody's Investors Services have gotten screwed.

With the 'peace process' a joke, Palestinians try to reorganize

Two weeks ago, West Bank Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad proposed forming a unity government between West Bank's Fatah and Gaza's Hamas, accorind to AFP.

Hamas gained control of Gaza in 2006 by unexpectedly winning legislative elections, and expelled Fatah entirely from Gaza in a war in 2007.

Not surprisingly, Hamas immediately rejected the suggestion. A Hamas spokesman is quoted as saying, "These declarations lack seriousness and credibility, they make no sense in light of the continued arrests and torture (of Hamas members) in Fatah prisons in the West Bank. The only real way towards reconciliation is to stop the arrests, free the detainees and allow the movement's charities to start helping the Palestinian people again."

However, a few days later, Fatah also rejected the suggestion, according to the Jerusalem Post, accusing Fayyad of trying to take charge of both Fatah and Hamas by leading the unity government.

But that isn't the end of the story. The idea of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas appealed to many youth in both Gaza and the West Bank, and over the weekend, a Facebook site calling for "all the Palestinian factions to unite" got 20,000 supporters, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Like many Arab countries, the Palestinian territories are planning for their own "Day of Rage" on March 15. But instead of calling for the government to step down, the demonstrators plan to demand that the government unite.

The youth movment, called "End the Division," is demanding that both Fatah and Hamas release each other's prisoners. The group is also demanding an end to "all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy."

My personal view is that the only thing that West Bank and Gaza Palestinians hate more than Israel is each other, and there is little chance of a meaningful unity government coming to pass.

Additional links

As I wrote last year in "22-Oct-10 News -- Foreclosure mess turns into a major crisis," the banks' use of "robo-signers" to process tens of thousands of foreclosure notices without having each set of documents reviewed by a human being is turning into a crisis. Some 62 million mortgages are entered into the national MERS system, and many of the mortgages have an inadequate paper trail showing who owns the property and who owns the mortgage. Since then, legal challenges to the MERS system have been mounting, and many homeowners who should have lost their homes are being told by judges that they can rip up their mortgages and walk away debt-free. NY Times

The same politicians, investment bankers and financial reporters who are lying about stock valuations are also desperately clinging to hopes about inflation or hyperinflation. The message is that there's no reason to worry about debt, and no reason to stop spending on everything in sight, since we can just "Inflate our way out of it." Japan's experience indicates that won't happen. Zero Hedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-11 News -- Moody's downgrades Greece's debt, triggering chain reaction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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7-Mar-11 News -- Escalating violence in Ivory Coast leads to enlarged U.N. peacekeeping force

Police fire on hundreds of women protesters in Abidjan

Escalating violence in Ivory Coast leads to enlarged U.N. peacekeeping force

While the world has been transfixed by the drama in Libya, a violent massacre took place in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) last week.

Laurent Gbagbo, right, and Alassane Ouattara in 2000, before they became bloody enemies. (Reuters)
Laurent Gbagbo, right, and Alassane Ouattara in 2000, before they became bloody enemies. (Reuters)

A group of hundreds of women were gathering and preparing to start a demonstration, thinking that no one would shoot at a crowd of women. But shoot they did, killing six women and injuring others, according to Angola Press.

If it weren't for the horrors of so much blood being spilled, what's happening in Ivory Coast might be the plot of a situation comedy.

Like other countries in that region of Africa, Ivory Coast's population is split into a number of ethnic groups, and those are split by religious divisions, with the population in the north largely Muslim, and the population in the south largely Christian (Catholic).

Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) (Source: CIA Fact Book)

Dating back to French colonial days and the beliefs of French cultural superiority, the France-allied southern population has been market dominant and government dominant. There was an election last year on November 28, and that's when things turned ugly, according to CS Monitor.

Laurent Gbagbo, a Catholic, had been president since 2000. The November election was close, but the winner was declared to be Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim. However, Gbagbo refused to step down, and instead empowered his police force to use whatever violence was necessary to keep him in power. It was Gbagbo's police supporters that massacred the women protesters last week.

There is widespread fear that the Ivory Coast conflict could spiral into a full-fledged civil war, and that's certainly a possibility, as Ivory Coast is in a generational Crisis era. As a result, the United Nations plans to deploy an additional 2,000 soldiers to its peacekeeping mission in the country, according to CNN.

Some 800 peacekeepers are already there, and many of them are stationed around the hotel in Abidjan where Ouattara is barricaded, to keep him safe from Gbago's police, according to Reuters.

Ivory Coast officially became a French colony in 1893, as part of French West Africa. In that generational Crisis period, the crisis climaxed in the north in 1881, with the conquest of numerous tribes by Samori Touré, the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state. The crisis climaxed in the south by 1898, with the French conquest of Touré and the collapse of the last of his empire.

France ruled with an assumption that French culture is superior to all others, an assumption that the population largely accepted. However, the illusion was destroyed by World War II, when France was quickly defeated by Germany. Like France itself, the colony was split between supporters of the Nazi-linked Vichy government, and the Free French under General Charles de Gaulle. Although the government élites supported the Vichy government, it appears that most Ivorians favored the Free French, especially after they experienced the harsh realities of living under Nazi rule.

Ivory Coast followed a pattern that's typical of many countries during a generational cycle, following the end of a crisis war. The country gained independence in 1960.

Félix Houphouët-Boigny, a Catholic, became President and virtual dictator, but maintained an even-handed, non-discriminatory policy toward Muslims from the north. This kind of balance is typical of the recovery period that follows a crisis war, as the survivors do everything possible to prevent any such war from occurring again.

However, on Houphouët-Boigny's death in 1993, old divisions began to reappear, and those divisions have magnified into today's crisis.

Henri Konan Bédié became president after a brief power struggle with Alassane Ouattara, the Muslim who is internationally considered the winner of the November 2010 election.

Bedié developed the concept of "Ivority" (Ivoirité in French), and arranged for laws that required political candidates to have a sufficient amount of Ivority to be qualified for office. The major criterion for Ivority was that both the candidate's parents had to have been born in Ivory Coast. Since many northerners, including Ouattara, had parents who were born in Burkina-Faso, many Muslims were automatically excluded. Thus, Ouattara, who had been the country's Prime Minister under Houphouët-Boigny, was no longer qualified to hold office.

Laurent Gbagbo supported the "Ivority" policy, and won the election in 2000. However, bitter divisions had developed, and by 2002, the civil war officially began. The rebels quickly took control of the northern half of the country.

The civil war has followed a familiar generational pattern of periods of low-level violence alternating with periods of less violence after a "peace agreement" has been signed. Each period of violence is more violent than the previous one.

Probably the only thing worse than an Ivory Coast civil war would be an Ivory Coast civil war with thousands of United Nations peacekeepers caught in the middle. A full scale generational crisis civil war is an elemental force of nature, and if it comes to that, then there's nothing that the peacekeepers or anyone else can do to stop it, until it's run its course.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-11 News -- Escalating violence in Ivory Coast leads to enlarged U.N. peacekeeping force thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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6-Mar-11 News -- Saudi Arabia locks down in advance of Friday's 'Day of Rage'

Senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards warns of violence

Saudi Arabia locks down in advance of Friday's 'Day of Rage'

It appears that the string of uprisings that Arab countries have been experiencing will finally reach Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Saudi Arabia <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Saudi Arabia (Source: CIA Fact Book)

Several thousand people have joined Facebook groups calling for a "day of rage" in the kingdom, with the first one planned for Friday, according to the LA Times.

Hoping to head off the protests, the government announced on Saturday that it would enforce existing laws that prohibit protests, according to the Arab News. According to the statement:

"Laws and regulations in the Kingdom totally prohibit all kinds of demonstrations, marches and sit-in protests as well as calling for them as they go against the principles of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions. ... [Such] demonstrations not only breach the Kingdom’s law and order but also encroach on the rights of others. ...

They will also lead to spreading chaos and confusion in the country, causing bloodshed, breaching honor, pillaging wealth and destroying public and private properties."

The Saudis have also drafted as many as 10,000 security personnel to try to control Friday's protests, according to Robert Fisk in the Independent.

The protests are expected to be heaviest in the northeast of the country, in the region closest to Iran. That's where a large Shia Muslim population is living, within this mostly Sunni Muslim kingdom. It's thought that the riots and demonstrations pitting Shias against Sunnis in neighboring Bahrain have been the trigger for the protests in Saudi Arabia.

The Iranians are positively gloating over this development. An article in the Tehran Times begins:

"Saudi Arabia's musk revolution

“The king is dead, long live the king,” is a call which, in its Arabic form, is sure to be heard before too long in Saudi Arabia. In the latest chapter of the saga of the House of Saud, the ailing and aged King Abdullah returned to the kingdom on Feb. 23 after a three-month absence, which included two back operations in New York City and a month's recuperation at his palace in Morocco.

It wasn't quite a triumphant return. Upon his arrival in Morocco, the king was brought down to earth in a wheelchair, carried from his aircraft in a scissor-lift disabled-passenger vehicle modeled on the design of a catering truck. A similar contraption was employed on his return home to Riyadh. The gerontocratic monarch is, obviously, on his last legs."

However, the article does add that "it is unlikely that much will come" of the protests planned for Friday.

Widespread unrest in Saudi Arabia could have a major effect on the world economy, since Saudi Arabia supplies much of the world's oil.

Additional links

The Green Movement protests in Iran in 2009 were triggered by an election that many people believed had been "fixed" in advance. There's a new parliamentary election coming up this year, and a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards is warning that the election may bring "bloodshed." This would be consistent with what happened in America's Awakening era protests. The Summer of Love took place in 1967, and then there were very violent protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Radio Zamaneh

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is leading a proposed commission of several Latin American nations to provide support for Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-11 News -- Saudi Arabia locks down in advance of Friday's 'Day of Rage' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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5-Mar-11 News -- Russia unleashes 'Black Hawk' vigilantes against Caucasus terrorists

The 'Black Hawks' say they'll target the families of suspected terrorists

Russia unleashes 'Black Hawk' vigilantes against Caucasus terrorists

The conflict in the North Caucasus (Russia's mostly Muslim southern provinces) has taken a dangerous turn, as a group of grass-root vigilantes threaten, with apparent Kremlin approval, to retaliate against the families of suspected terrorists.

Leader of 'Black Hawks'
Leader of 'Black Hawks'

The armed, masked, and black-clad vigilante group, calling themselves the "Black Hawks," appeared in the province of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR). They call themselves an "anti-Wahhabi" group. Wahhabism is the hard-line sect of Islam adopted by jihadists who distort Islam to justify terrorism.

They've received widespread attention in the last couple of days, ever since the leader was interviewed anonymously on television, and the video (Russian) was posted on the internet.

He says the following, according to Interfax:

"There is no faith there. The Quran says that children's and women's blood cannot be shed. The Quran has only one definition of a holy war - jihad. This implies the liberation of one's land. Who is oppressing them here? Who prevents them from living peacefully and safely?" the leader of Black Hawks said on the television channel REN-TV during a news program on Tuesday evening.

Let them [the militants] collect tributes from businessmen and vodka tycoons, but they can't kill our children. If they continue this way, we will be killing their children, so they feel on their own back how painful this is. We are sick and tired of the lawlessness committed by this bearded scum who doesn't let the republic live in peace."

Violence by the Black Hawks has already received some tacit approval from at least one senior Kremlin official. Alexander Torshin, whom we recently quoted as accusing Georgia of plotting the Moscow airport bombing (see "3-Mar-11 News -- Instability in Russia puts 2014 Olympics at Sochi in doubt"), is quoted by Interfax as at least partially supporting the Black Hawks, but also saying that their appearance will escalate the violence in the region, possibly to civil war:

"The people who have joined the Black Hawks are a real force, they are a young people's organization consisting mainly of young people who want to live according to civilized laws, not according to radical Islamic rules.

The bearded terrorists are carrying a tough Islamic order, which has nothing in common with European values, and therefore the appearance of such an underground structure in Kabardino-Balkaria is very natural. ...

At the same time, they already have conflicts with the law enforcement system because they practice lynch law, which will be toughly curbed by the law enforcement agencies. We have a question: why are they so quick to punish them, but are doing nothing to stop the bearded men? ...

It's a civil war with underground bandits. I will give my paradoxical opinion. I believe the local law enforcement agencies should not fight these good people from the Black Hawks, who are fighting Wahhabis, but use them because they could become a good information channel."

The Black Hawks have struck several times already. The Moscow Times lists several attacks against the relatives of suspected terrorists in Kabardino-Balkaria. These attacks set off fires and grenades at the homes of these families and relatives, but so far nobody has been hurt.

There is some suspicion that the Black Hawks are not civilians at all, but are Russian security forces in disguise, performing violent acts that they couldn't do in their official capacity. However, this has not been proven.

Doku Umarov, veteran of the Chechnya wars and self-styled head of the "Islamic Caucasus Emirate," is currently the leader of the jihadist movement in the North Caucasus, and the man who has claimed responsibility for the Moscow airport bombing. He is not going to end his terrorist activities because the families of some of his subordinates are in danger.

Historically, the Caucasus is one of the most dangerous regions on earth. It's been the site of centuries of major generational crisis wars between Orthodox Christians and Muslims, but has also been the site of wars between ethnic groups, even of the same religion. The appearance of vigilante groups approved by Kremlin officials cannot be regarded as a good thing in a region that might explode at any time.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-11 News -- Russia unleashes 'Black Hawk' vigilantes against Caucasus terrorists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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4-Mar-11 News -- Food prices surge again in February

Arab League says that it may impose its own 'no fly zone' in Libya

Food prices surge again in February

World food prices once again rose to fresh historic highs, for the eighth consecutive month. Prices rose 2.2% in one month from January to February, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FAO Food Price Index - 1991 - February 2011
FAO Food Price Index - 1991 - February 2011

Of particular importance were the prices of cereals, which rose 3.7% in one month. The cereal price index includes prices of the main food staples in many countries, such as wheat, rice and maize.

Food prices are expected to continue to climb even if harvests expand, according to Bloomberg. That's because after three years of poor harvests, stockpiles are low, and it will take at least two or three years of good harvests to rebuild stockpiles.

The original Tunisia uprising began as food riots in January, and high food prices have fueled the Arab uprisings in country after country. This is having a feedback effect, since the uprisings themselves are affecting the production of food in those countries, pushing prices still higher. The uprising in Libya is causing the price of oil to surge, and higher oil prices leading to spiralling shipping costs that will drive food inflation even higher, according to Reuters.

A new IMF report says that high food prices are here to stay because of structural issues:

These structural problems have come at a time of weather-related supply shocks, including drought and wildfires in Russia, a hot and wet summer in the U.S., and one of the strongest La Niña weather episodes in the past 50 years, affecting food production in Asia.

Food prices have been increasing almost steadily since 2002, in good times and bad, in good weather or bad. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're continuing to see what I call the "Malthus Effect," a continuing increase in the price of food as the population grows faster than the supply of food, especially during a generational Crisis era.

Additional links

The war continues in Libya, as Muammar Gaddafi's forces attempt to recover ground lost to the rebels. Of particular importance are the petroleum and natural gas processing facilities on the coast. The rebels repelled attacks by Gaddafi's forces, while the regime struck back on Thursday with air strikes. LA Times

While the West dithers in trying to decide whether to intervene in the Libyan uprising, the Arab League has made an empty promise by saying that it may impose its own "no fly zone" over Libya, in coordination with the African Union. The Arab League demanded "the preservation of the unity of Libyan lands and civil peace" - similar to the language it used in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Al-Jazeera

China's human rights activists have been disappearing during the last few weeks, ever since someone anonymously posted on the internet that the Chinese ought to emulate Tunisia's 'Jasmine Revolution.' USA Today

Yesterday, we told you that Egyptian officials had once again postponed the reopening of the Cairo Stock exchange, closed since January 27, until March 6. But on Thursday it was announced that the stock exchange would be closed indefinitely. Investors are demanding that it stay closed, so that they can continue to claim that their stock assets are worth more than they really are. This is the same kind of scam that American banks have been using by refusing to mark their toxic assets to market. AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-11 News -- Food prices surge again in February thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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3-Mar-11 News -- Instability in Russia puts 2014 Olympics at Sochi in doubt

Saudi Arabia 'Day of rage' threats lead to 11% stock market crash

Instability in Russia puts 2014 Olympics at Sochi in doubt

Georgians are infuriated by the accusation by Alexander Torshin, a senior senator in Russia's government, that the "ruling regime" of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili perpetrated the suicide terrorist bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on January 24, killing 37 people, according to the Moscow Times. Tensions between Russia and Georgia have been great since the 2008 war fought between the two countries, largely over status of Georgia's separatist province South Ossetia, whose status has not been settled to this day.

Northern Caucasus -- Russia's southern provinces - Sochi 2014 logo at left is site of 2014 winter Olympics
Northern Caucasus -- Russia's southern provinces - Sochi 2014 logo at left is site of 2014 winter Olympics

Chechnya's terrorist leader Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the airport bombing, but Torshin rejected that claim.

"Saakashvili's regime didn't need Umarov to organize bombings because there is [South] Ossetian traitor [Dmitry] Sanakoyev and his agents. Saakashvili doesn't hide his anger toward us. He made anti-Russian sentiment an item for sale a long time ago and sells it."

This accusation has raised tensions between the two countries to a new level. Georgia's foreign minister said that the statement was a "purposeful provocation," and an "absolutely groundless accusation," according to She pointed out that "Even the Russian law enforcement agencies have made not a single indication about the Georgian trace," and accused the Russians of adopting these false allegations as policy.

At the heart of the latest rounds of accusations and counter-accusations are Russia's plans to hold the 2014 Winter Olypics in Sochi. Georgian officials have in fact called for relocation of games because of security threats, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has for weeks been suggesting that Georgia is the source of those security threats. Reuters quotes Medvedev as saying "Forces that would impede holding the Olympics must be identified and brought to justice, if we are talking about citizens of our country. You all understand that there are also certain problems connected to our neighbour, Georgia."

This all comes as a new wave of violence is sweeping through the crucially important province of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR) in the North Caucasus (Russia's southern provinces). On February 21, three tourists were gunned down by suspected Islamist terrorists while while skiing on Mount Elbrus, a major tourist attraction in KBR. The attack on tourists in this normally calm region has shocked Russians, and has led to calls from officials to halt tourism in the area, according to Reuters.

This was followed by the discovery of a shelter, on the slopes of Mount Elbrus, stocked with food, firearms, explosives and police uniforms and capable of housing eight people. Law enforcement officials carried out airstrikes and mortar bombings on Mount Elbrus to hunt down the militants, according to the Moscow Times, though it's not clear that any insurgents were killed.

Analyst Paul Goble is quoting Moscow political scientists are saying that the KBR violence is devastating to Russia as a whole, because it casts doubt on Moscow’s ability to ensure political stability in the North Caucasus, essential for the 2014 Olympics. In doing so, it's adding to the instability of the entire country.

The tourist attacks have severely damaged the credibility of both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, both of whom have staked their reputations on a modernization program for the North Caucasus that was to have resolved the violence.

Furthermore, the incident is increasing the level of nationalism and xenophobia among Russians, at a time when there has been repeated violence between Russians and Caucasus Muslims in Moscow.

As I wrote last year in "2-Nov-10 News -- Russia is losing control of the Caucasus," the selection of Sochi for the 2014 Olympics suffers from a very dramatic reality. Whether by incredible coincidence or design, Sochi is the site of a battle that occurred exactly 150 years earlier, in 1864 -- a well-remembered battle where ethnic Russians massacred ethnic Circassians, the same Circassians that now live in KBR and neighboring North Caucasus provinces.

At the time that I wrote that report, the Circassian genocide was still a narrowly local issue, but it's increasingly becoming a national and international issue, according to Goble.

In the past, Moscow has simply ignored the Circassian situation, saying that nothing important happened. But it's becoming apparent that Moscow badly miscalculated, and now has to deal with a growing problem. The Circassians are demanding recognition of what happened in 1864 as a genocide, and they're receiving the cooperation of the Georgians in making this demand. This may explain why some Russian officials are accusing the Georgians of perpetrating violence in the North Caucasus, and even being responsible for the airport bombing.

According to Goble, Russian authorities may be planning to try to divide the Circassians by offering them something in the hopes of getting them to drop these demands.

I would be very surprised if this kind of bribery did anything but worsen the situation.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Caucasus region is one of the most violent on earth, because of the interethnic wars, and because it's one of the major regions (along with the Crimea and the Balkans) where fault line generational crisis wars have been fought between the Muslim civilization and the Orthodox Christian civilization. The great forces that have lead to these wars over the centuries appear to be rising again. It's too bad that the 2014 Winter Olympics plans for Sochi are caught in the line of fire.

Additional links

Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange - to March 2, 2011
Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange - to March 2, 2011

Saudi Arabia's stock market continues its rapid crash, falling 11% in wild trading in the last two days. The entire Gulf region was affected, and Dubai's stock exchange plunged to a 7 year low. Saudi activists have called on Facebook for a "Day of Rage" on March 11. Telegraph

The failure of the Cairo stock exchange to reopen yesterday, after having been closed since January 27, may cause the exchange to lose its recognition as an international market. Bloomberg

The generation of Russians born in 1991 or later lack understanding of the dangers of xenophobia, and so are becoming increasingly nationalistic, and this "can lead to the splitting up of Russia into separate ethnic fragment-states." Paul Goble

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Mar-11 News -- Instability in Russia puts 2014 Olympics at Sochi in doubt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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2-Mar-11 News -- Massive refugee crisis in Libya increases international calls for intervention

Cairo Stock Exchange reopening postponed till next week

Massive refugee crisis in Libya increases international calls for intervention

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce – now in the Red Sea – to the Mediterranean, to "provide us with capability for both emergency evacuations and humanitarian operations," according to the Dept. of Defense. Gates ordered 400 Marines from the United States in support of the Kearsarge's mission.

Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge
Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge

Reports indicate that hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing across Libya's borders into Egypt, Tunisia and Niger. The Tripoli Post quotes Ayman Gharaibeh of the UN's humanitarian agency as saying, "We can see acres of people waiting to cross the border. Many have been waiting for three to four days in the freezing cold, with no shelter or food."

Once the refugees cross the border, they generally have no place to go. In Tunisia, refugess are met with local Tunisians who attack them with stakes and iron bars, according to Robert Fisk at the Independent.

Fighting is most violent in the cities of Zawiya and Misrata, near Tripoli. Zawiya rebels, who are armed with tanks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, fought pro-Gaddafi troops in a series of battles, and drove them back, according to AP. An exact death toll from the fighting is not available, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon estimates that there have been 1,000 deaths.

Anti-government rebels have been demanding that the U.S., Britain and Nato establish a no-fly zone in Libya:

"Gadhafi's air force is a serious threat to us. We will welcome a no-fly zone on Gadhafi's warplanes over the whole of Libya. The only thing we object to is foreign troops on Libyan soil."

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been very vocally calling for the establishment of a no-fly zone, to prevent the Libyan air force from firing on protesters and rebels from aircraft. Reuters quotes him as saying on Monday:

"We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets. We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people. In that context I have asked the Ministry of Defense and the Chief of the Defense Staff to work with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone."

Susan Rice, America's ambassador to the UN, is in agreement, according to ABC News:

"We are in discussions with our allies and NATO and elsewhere about planning for all sorts of military contingencies including a no-fly zone and should we decide that it is necessary to take the step we will proceed with the proper international steps that go with that including consultations at the United Nations."

However, Defense Secretary Gates is definitely not in favor of this kind of miltary action. According to the LA Times, he said, "All of the options beyond the humanitarian assistance and evacuation are complex," indicating that US involvement in a third war might affect operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Cameron backed down, after senior military sources expressed concern about the dangers of being sucked into a long and potentially dangerous operation, according to the Guardian. Officials from France, Turkey and Russia also rejected the no-fly-zone idea, and China is expected to do so as well.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the decision to intervene militarily in Libya is no more under the control of the politicians than the path of a hurricane would be. If the refugee problem continues to grow, and a civil war appears close, then the West will be forced to intervene whether it wants to or not. On the hand, if the violence begins to fizzle, then intervention will be avoided.

To that end, I heard one commentator say the following on Al-Jazeera on Tuesday (paraphrasing): "Gaddafi will end his life soon. He might commit suicide, but that's very unlikely, because that's a sin in Islam. Otherwise, he might go out into the battle and get into a gunfight and get himself killed. This is almost certain to happen."

That would be a very dramatic end to Gaddafi, if it happens, but it would not end the crisis in Libya.

Additional links

Cairo Stock Exchange - to January 27, 2011
Cairo Stock Exchange - to January 27, 2011

The Cairo Stock Exchange has been shut down since January 27, when the stock index fell over 10% in one day. Officials had promised to reopen the stock market on Tuesday, but at the last minute the reopening was postponed to next week. This can't go on forever. Sooner or later they'll have to face the music. CNBC

Turkish officials are very pleased with the successful evacuation of over 17,500 Turkish citizens from Libya. However, the large size of the evacuation carries an ominous message: Turkey risks being harder hit by the economic side-effects of political instability in the region than other countries. Eurasia Net

Germany has 3 million people of Turkish descent. Three years ago, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan angered Germany citizesn by saying during a speech in Cologne that assimilation of Turks into Germany society is a "crime against humanity," meaning that Turkish citizens of Germany were Turkish first and German second. Now he's renewed the controversy with a new speech in Dusseldorf, where he said, "Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don't assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture an our identity." The line generating the most controversy was this: "Our children must learn German, but they must first learn good Turkish." Spiegel

South Korea and the U.S. will conduct joint military exercises again, but this time there's a sudden change in focus. In the past, the drills focused on a full-scale war between South and North Korea, essentially a restarting of the Korean War of the 1950s. But the new drill will focus on a contingency plan that prepares for a collapse in the North Korean government, possibly following the death of Kim Jong-il. Chosun

While the U.S. continues to isolate Iran over its nuclear program, Iran is courting left-leaning powers in Latin America. Foreign Policy in Focus

"Where have the good men gone?" is another article about women whining because young men don't fit into whatever mold they think they want this week. I get annoyed by this stuff because these young men are the next "Greatest Generation," like the GI generation of WW II, a generation waiting for their meeting with destiny. When the time comes and the nation is facing its greatest danger, these Heroes will go off to war fearlessly and do their duty. Without any thought for themselves, they'll go proudly and valiantly into battle, and they won't even be sad about it. So whether you're a girlfriend or a parent, enjoy your time with these young men, because it won't last forever. Wall Street Journal (Access)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Mar-11 News -- Massive refugee crisis in Libya increases international calls for intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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1-Mar-11 News -- Mideast riots and violence spreads to Oman

Government changes by Sultan Qaboos fails to satisfy demonstrators

Mideast riots and violence spreads to Oman

Oman <font size=-2>(Source: CIA Fact Book)</font>
Oman (Source: CIA Fact Book)

About 1,000 protesters set a supermarket on fire in Sohar, on the northwest coast of Oman, on Monday, in the third day of clashes with police. According to The National (UAE), the protesters were mostly young people, claiming that most jobs are given to migrant workers from other countries, leaving Omanis without jobs.

In an effort to head off further demonstrations, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said has ordered a reorganization of the government, the creation of 50,000 new government jobs, and a monthly stipend of about 150 rials ($390) for unemployed job seekers, according to the Telegraph.

Since 1744, Oman has been ruled by the powerful Al Said dynasty. Historically, they ruled the coastal areas around Muscat, the capital city, while the interior portions of the country were run by individual tribes governed by imams (Muslim religious leaders). The tribes were unified under a central government by a generational crisis civil war in 1870-71.

Oman's most recent crisis war was the Dhofar Rebellion of 1962-75. The war involved military forces from Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Sultan Qaboos, who overthrew his father in a coup d'état in 1970, has been in power ever since. In the end, Oman became a close ally of Britain and the United States.

Oman is currently near the end of its generational Awakening era. The current unrest has a good chance of leading to an Awakening climax, that will lead to some kind of change in Oman's government. It might be a simple change of leadership from Sultan Qaboos to someone else, or it might be a major change in the form of government. A lot depends on whether Sultan Qaboos decides to use a massacre scenario, such as is being used in Libya, or was used briefly in neighboring Bahrain.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Mar-11 News -- Mideast riots and violence spreads to Oman thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Mar-2011) Permanent Link
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